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Vi" ,W "'h' >'i,l"' III' 
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3 1924 073 970 695 





Cornell University 

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Scanned as part of the A. R. Mann Library 
project to preserve and enhance access to the 
Core Historical Literature of the Agricultural 
Sciences. Titles included in this collection are 
listed in the volumes published by the Cornell 
University Press in the series The Literature of 
the Agricultural Sciences, 1991-1996, Wallace 
C. Olsen, series editor. 






Gakden City New York 





e f(^0^(^ 


We are pleased to acknowledge our indebtedness for the 
illustrations in this pubhcation to the International Harvester 
Co., Hart-Parr Co., Averj' Co., Buffalo-Pitts. Co., Gas Traction 
Co., M. Rumely Co., C. L. Best Co., Holt Manufacturing Co., 
Thompson-Breese Co., Reeves & Co., J. I. Case Plow Works, 
Oliver Chilled Plow Works, Parlin & Orendorff Co., Moline 
Plow Co., Emerson— Brantingham Co., Deere & Co., La Crosse 
Plow Co., The American Thresherman, Modem Power. 


I. The Motor Contest .... 

II. Sources of Power for Plowing 

III. The Measurement of Power 

IV. The Horse as a Motor for Plowing 
V. The Efficiency of the Horse 

VI. Essentials of the Draft Horse 

VII. The Steam Tractor as a Motor Power for 
Plowing ..... 

VIII. Performance of Steam Tractors . 

IX. Fuel for Steam Tractors 

X. The Internal-Combustion Tractor 

XI. Efficiency of Gas Tractors 

XII. Fuel for Gas Tractors 

XIII. Early History of the Plow 

XIV. The Plow in Great Britain 
^^ XV. The Plow in America 

XVI. Plows for Animal Power 

XVII. Plows for Mechanical Power 

XVIII. Conditions Affecting the Choice of Plows 

XIX. Mechanical Principles of the Plow 

XX. When to Plow, and How Deep . 

XXI. Draft of Plows 

XXII. Draft of Other Implements 

XXIII. The Genesis of Power Plowing . 







XXIV. Substitutes for the Tractor .226 

XXV. Animal-Mechaiiical Tillage .233 

XXVI. The General Purpose Motor .237 

XXVII. Business Management of Traction Plowing, 243 

XXVm. The Traction Engine in Dry-Farming 253 

XXIX. Traction Farming m Com Belt . 267 

XXX. Power and the Food Supply 274 

XXXI. The Choice of Power .289 

XXXII. The Future of the Traction Engine . 298 

Specifications of Leading Gas Tractors 309 

List of Authorities Consulted 317 


The Work of the Plow 

The Greatest Labor of 

At Motor Contests 

Sources of Power for Plowing 

Testing Tractors 

Steam Tractors 

Engine Power from Cultivating to Threshing 

Details of Steam Tractors 

Details of Steam Tractors 

Tractor Mishaps 

Gas Tractors 

Details of Gas Tractors 

Types of Gas Tractors 

Types of Gas Tractors 

Engine Gang Plows . 

Engine Drawn Plows on Prairie Sod 

Hand Lift Engine Plows Working in 

Tractor Accomplishes All at Once 

Tractor Accomplishes All at Once 

The General Utility of Tractors 

Pioneers in Steam Plowing 

Saving Time by Good Management 

The Various Uses of the Traction Engine 

















. 172 


. 176 

. 184 

. 186 

. 216 

. 222 


. 224 

igine . 

. 298 




CLOUDS of smoke and hissing steam; a broad prairie 
stretching for miles without a break, save for the dis- 
tant mirage; here and there a tiny prairie fire held in 
leash by bands of blackened earth; dust and heat; 
throngs of eager spectators; the song of vibrant steel and the 
cracking roots of age-old sod — imagine all this, add to it the 
sight of a score of monster engines pulling leviathan plows, 
and you have a faint picture of the Wiimipeg plowing contest. 
Shining prows of steel, cleaving the waves of a sea of prairie 
grass; long furrows lost in a haze; lines of fluttering flags to 
guide the engineer on a straight course; huge twenty-ton en- 
gines mere dots on the landscape, and you have the impression 
of distance. Refreshment tents, excursion trains, busy autos 
running errands for the slow-moving tractors, or whisking the 
manufacturer's crew back and forth, and you feel the spirit 
of a modem festival. Then, in the twilight, mild-eyed cattle 
meandering slowly over the upturned field, wondering, Rip Van 
Winkle-like, at the transformation, and you sense a tragedy, 
for the pasture of the ox and buffalo from time immemorial 
is lost forever to advancing civilization. In the night, when the 
camps have vanished, one might even fancy Indian spirits 
floating miserably over the desolate waste of a one-time happy 
hunting ground. 


What is this afifair? It is an annual contest, a feature of the 
Winnipeg Industrial Exhibition, open to the world for either 
steam or internal-combustion tractors of any size or weight. 
The contest of 1908, first of its kind on the American continent, 
was received with skepticism, .admixed with wonder, but the 
world-wide interest in the results proved the timeUness of such 
a demonstration of the utility of mechanical power on the farm. 
With succeeding competitions this interest has in nowise abated, 
and the present scene is the crowning event of them all. 

Invitations have been sent to every manufacturer, regula- 
tions drawn and published, testing apparatus put in readiness, 
and all preparations made to determine, from at least one stand- 
point, the best agricultural motor for Western Canada. For 
weeks before the trials engines have been arriving in Winnipeg, 
and many a neighboring farmer has had a sizable field plowed 
gratis while these modern farm horses tried out their paces. 
For ten long days before the engines appear on the plowing 
field they have been tested for their stationary power on a fric- 
tion brake, in a hotimromantic corner of the exhibition grounds. 
Now they have made their way over ten miles of winding prai- 
rie trail to where a section of virgin gumbo sod Ues waiting for 
the breaking plow. Here at last ensues the real struggle, the 
cUmax of a year's effort. 

All one day there is the eagerness of preparation. Tents 
are pitched, fuel and water arranged for, plows assembled and 
carefully adjusted. On a quarter section set apart, the compet- 
itors are given a chance to test their plows and power. Courses 
are marked by flag and stake, and all made ready for the start 
at daybreak. In the night a steam tractioneer steals away with 
his engine to caulk a flue. Yonder a dim light shows where a 
torn gasket is being replaced on a gas tractor, or possibly a 
sheared stud in a fuel pump is being replaced by a nail from the 
tool-box. In the stillness, the soimd of a stealthy file betrays 
the purpose of a plowman to get an edge on his rival as well as 
his plow. Camp food, tents, cots, blankets, hasty lunches 

The first in America held at Winnipeg, Can., in 1908 
The gasoline midget 
Making smooth, mile-long furrows ten at a time 


during the long busy hours, the lack of opportunity for restful 
sleep and clean washing, all emphasize the bustle and confusion, 
and give some hint of the hardships borne without a murmur 
by the loyal mechanics. Their iron steeds have been put 
in the final pink of condition. The night before the supreme 
test the men sleep in their clothes on the field, one eye open for 
prowlers from rival camps. 

Out on the fields at dawn we find the officials, business-like 
college professors, clad in wide-brimmed hats and overalls. 
Harassed and bufPeted by contending ranks, they discharge 
their duties with all the more zest. Fuel and water are care- 
fully dispensed, and one by one the puffing, purring steamers 
and the puttering gas tractors are sent into the fray. Down the 
field, headed straight for each flag in the line, the steersman 
strikes his furrow. Circling quickly at the other end, he re- 
turns carefully upon the edge of the first. Back and forth the 
engines puff and groan, while plowshares that have been 
sharpened to a razor edge at the factory cut the tough, dry sod 
as a knife cuts cheese. Two acres of virgin prairie grow dark 
with every mile of travel, four acres in an hour. Once in a 
former contest an acre of stubble ground was plowed in eight 
minutes, a world 's record. Tons of coal and carloads of water 
are sent into the thin air, and between sunrise of one day and 
nightfall of the next three hundred and twenty acres of 
virgin land are doubled in value by breaking. 

Here is a mammoth steam engine of the double-cylinder type; 
there a single cylinder. Yonder is an engine which has been 
used until bearings are worn to a glassy smoothness and every 
joint is limber. Next to it is one losing hopelessly through lack 
of preliminary tuning up. Alongside a steam mogul is a 
gasoline midget. On the next course is the hope of an inventor 
who has staked his all on a crude combination of plows, harrows, 
and packers. A fussy little single-cylinder engine is coughing, 
"I can't, I can't, I can, I can, I can, I can't, I can't." Yon- 
der can be seen a gas tractor with opposed engine, here a four- 


cylinder vertical, and over there a two-cylinder horizontal. 
This engine cools its cylinder with water, and that with oil. 
This one has a hit-and-miss governor, while that one throttles 
its charge. Here is an owner ready at the last moment to risk 
the race on some new notion. A new cleat or a new cork in- 
sert in the friction clutch fails at the critical time and a good 
machine is discredited. The student of design saves here ten 
thousand miles of travel, and sees construction put to its most 
strenuous test in yielding data of incomparable value. 

Each hour the steamers must take water, but time is too 
precious to allow a stop. The tank wagon keeps pace alongside, 
and a hose-crane and steam jet do the rest. Once in two hours 
the coal supply must be replenished, but the engineer finds 
sacked fuel and a dozen helping hands to avoid delay. The 
bare prairie affords no natural watering place. The alkali 
water from a distant farm well is not only insufficient, but bad 
for both man and machine. The railway falters in its task of 
bringing water in tank cars from the city, and early in the day 
six steamers must stop plowing while gas engines on all sides 
go popping merrily on. When water comes at last, two ver- 
satile gas tractors fall to and assist the weary teams in keeping 
their steam cousins in motion. 

The foremost experts on the continent are in charge of rival 
plows. Here is a game within a game, Yankee plowmaker 
against Yankee, and Canadian against both. The craftiest 
general of them all adjusts his plows to show a sharp furrow 
handsome on top, regardless of what lies underneath, and so 
wins popular favor for the engine which tows him. Had the 
plowmaker not provided these superb implements, products 
of the last decade, a contest on such scale would be impossible. 
The cattle wandering over their former pasture field would still 
have found rich pickings, and the memory of smooth mile-long 
furrows would not have lingered with many a farmer to create 
in his mind the thought of ownership. 

In inmiediate charge for the competing companies are the tall 


diplomatic manager of an experimental department, trained 
as a salesman; the imtedmical publicity man; the mechanical 
engineer and the chief inspector of one concern; the shop super- 
intendent of another, and the Canadian sales-manager in 
another case. An intensely interested gallery follows every 
move. The head of a great company meets fifty subordinates 
on the field. In one short day he progresses from vast igno- 
rance of even the commonest terms to a masterly grasp of the 
stupendous opportunity pictured by this brief contest. A 
veteran builder proclaims his impatience with a contest that 
pays him nothing for the expense and worry, yet down in his 
heart he knows he could not be kept out. A bluff man, risen 
from the rank of salesman to the leadership of an immense 
concern, is deep in conversation with an eager young officer 
who has brought an old company in the states a new lease of 
life. At some lull an eavesdropper finds them betting a hat 
on the result of the contest. The next moment they plunge 
into a discussion of what manufacturers can do to prevent the 
impending shortage of skilled labor, which must cripple us as a 
manufacturing nation. Astride a water tank, and losing no 
detail of the proceedings, is the dapper, rosy-faced man who 
rules one of the largest thresher companies with an iron hand. 
In a buggy that seems strangely out of place follows an elderly, 
mild-mannered man who has brought his new engine to the 
motor contest to give it a tiyout such as he is unable to give 
it at the factory. 

The professor of mechanical engineering rubs elbows with 
professors of agricultural engineering. The superintendent 
of motive power in a great railway system exchanges views on 
traction dynamometers with the inventor of the ones used in 
the contest. In a sociable group are government represen- 
tatives from Russia, Canada, and the United States, and a half 
dozen non-competing manufacturers from the world-at-large. 
There are scores of men building steam and gas tractors; sta- 
tionary gas engine builders whose mouths water at the dream of 


a profitable tractor trade; men building plows; and, besetting 
aU these, dozens of inventors who are there to gather ideas and 
present their claims for the attention of capital. 

By machine, trap, and excursion train come the crowds. 
Sharply through it all runs the commercial spirit. On every 
hand is the wily salesman bidding for the favor of a fascinated 
prospect. Here is the farmer who comes with open mind, and 
there is the partisan who backs his favorite, win or lose. Yon- 
der is he who came to scofiE and remains to investigate. Well- 
groomed city men and smartly dressed women come, in 
uncomprehending wonderment, to join the throng that trudges 
after these roaring, pulsating heralds of a new order of things 
on the farm. From far and near the Canadian farmer, and 
even his neighbor from across the line, flock to Wiimipeg to see 
the tractors of the English-speaking world pitted in equal com- 
petition. Representatives of the press are everywhere at 
elbow to note the smallest item of interest. On every side there 
is the indefatigable photographer, and even the cartoonist, 
gathering pictures of the engines, the plows, and the living 
actors for the eyes of a waiting world. 

What does the public comprehend of the immense spectacle 
staged for its benefit? What does it know of the game, the 
intense rivalry, the tricks, and the prize that is sought? In the 
eyes of the farm boy you see only the look of envy cast on the 
greasy mechanic at the throttle or steering wheel. You fathom 
the longing of a weary farmer to own a machine which ban- 
ishes drudgery. But the participants themselves, intent only 
on their own and some rival's performance, have neither eyes 
to see nor lips to explain. No actors were ever more careless 
of their audience, at least untU the contest is over, and the ad- 
vertising managers of the successful firms get busy. 

Influential men from the largest oil corporation in the world 
are present, keenly interested in the question of mechanical 
power on the farm as affecting the market for liquid fuels. The 
largest independent maker of automobiles, prepared to spend 


untold amounts in developing his ideas of a light farm tractor, 
is here to study and criticise. He finds a kindred spirit in the 
old patent expert who illustrates his conception of the light 
tractor by the story of a cat chased up a tree by a dog. "The 
cat," he says, "didn't have weight, but she had traction." 
An imsympathetic bystander suggests that if a brick had been 
tied to the cat's tail, corresponding to the plows behind a trac- 
tor, the dog would have put the cat out of business. 

No other annual exposition held on the American continent 
brings together such a galaxy of big men in the farm power 
industry as the Winnipeg exhibition with its motor contest. 
No other one thing has done more to crystaUize the thought of 
the world upon the adaptation of mechanical power to plowing. 
The capital and brains of a continent are concentrated at one 
point, all intent on the one problem. Capitalists, engineers, 
designers, salesmen, journalists, land men, oU men, farmers, 
and teachers are aU on the scene, striving to forecast the future 
of mechanical power on the farm. Through this one aimual 
event the name of Winnipeg has become so linked with the 
thought of traction engines and traction plowing that, when the 
last great history of mechanical power on the farm shall have 
been written, the name will stand out on the pages Uke that of 
Chicago in the romance of the reaper, and South Bend and 
Malone in the history of the plow. 

What is there behind all this? Are we watching a mere 
parade of machines, or is it a race, with huge, slow-moving 
iron Percherons in place of thoroughbreds? As ages of racing 
have put fire and steel into structures of muscle and bone, as 
auto races have toughened the metal of machines, so does the 
contest bring out the temper of the contesting motors. It is 
a race where twenty-ton engines are the entries, where the 
skill of the designer, the craft of the workman, the cunning of 
the general on the field, and the coolness, bravery, and resource- 
fulness of the tractioneer are all pitted against those of rival 


Let no one liken the motor contest merely to an old-time 
Scottish plowing match, where slow, careful work, a steady 
team, and a skilful hand were the winning factors. The 
Scotchman aspired to leave behind him smooth furrows, 
straight as an arrow, with the crest of each standing up sharp 
and unbroken from one end of the field to the other. Here at 
Winnipeg, where all is speed, distance, and bustle, we might 
more easily liken the scene to a hunt. We might call it a sport 
of kings, where men spend thousands to win a golden bauble. 
A bauble, did we say? Yes, and no, for the medal carries with 
it a claim on the lion's share of trade in a new farm empire 
richer than Lid. 

Fifty important firms on this continent are building tractors. 
A million-dollar addition in Lidiana, a new million-dollar plant 
in Chicago, a two-million-dollar factory in Iowa, have been 
erected to construct gas tractors in the brief interval since they 
have been recognized as a possibility. New companies are 
appearing, old firms expanding, to take care of the business 
that rewards aggressive methods. The Northwest is the battle 
ground. Machine power is on the ascendant. You hear it, 
see it everywhere. Farmers and business men talk it. Sales- 
men breathe it. A single issue of a Canadian magazine con- 
tains 16,000 agate lines of reading matter and 20,000 of adver- 
tising devoted to power plowing. In Western Canada two 
himdred million acres of tillable land lie in a virgin state, 
waiting for power and the plow, and trainload after trainload of 
tractors, bedecked and bannered, are pouring from the East 
and the South, through the Winnipeg gateway, and on to the 
wide aces of Alberta and Saskatchewan to answer the call. 

Here is the fascination of the Winnipeg motor contest. 
We are witnessing in miniature the conquest of the last great 
West, a fit occupation for the strong. Broad, free stretches of 
virgin land, so large as to dishearten the lone settler, offer a 
problem to test the mettle of the keenest and the most power- 
ful. Mechanical power has added tens of millions of bushels 


yearly to the yield of prairie wheat and put hundreds of pros- 
perous towns on the map. Prairies are now settled in months 
where it took years before the coming of the traction engine. 
The Man with the Hoe is passing, and, in his wake, man's 
faithful friend the horse. 

Wheat is the noblest of all foodstuffs, containing in its ker- 
nel the thirteen essential elements of animal nutrition in 
almost the exact proportions found in the human body. Once 
a race has tasted wheat it begins to rise in the scale of civiliza- 
tion. The civilizing influence of conunerce has created an 
appetite among the people of all lands, and drawn with increas- 
ing force upon the surplus of exporting nations. The world 
is pressing on the limits of wheat production, and actual shortage 
is imminent unless we can push rapidly into virgin fields in 
search of a larger wheat-raising area. Canada, Russia, and the 
Argentine are wresting from the older nations the right to 
supply the world with bread. Broad, level tracts, unhampered 
by petty farm lines and traditions, together with unlimited 
mechanical power, offer the opportunity for organizing wheat 
production on a broad and effective basis. Every horse dis- 
placed by mechanical power adds five to eight acres to the 
area devoted to human maintenance. Back of the motor 
contest, then, and giving it force, is the call for the taming of 
the prairies, and, deeper than that, the ciy of increasing mil- 
lions for an abu ndanc elof . their daily bread. 



MAN has risen in the scale of civilization in exact 
proportion to the extent to which his brain has de- 
vised means of lessening'physical work. From the 
time that practical necessity pulled the Sacred Bull 
off his high pedestal, and lashed to his horns the long branch 
of a forked sapling, man has accomplished the world's work 
with less and less drudgery. First the weaker human beings, 
then the more powerful though less cunning animals, and 
finally, one by one, the great forces of nature, have been brought 
under man's control, harnessed, and made to do work. Man 
has attained wondrous mental power and a capacity for work 
that is impossible to the unaided hand. The brain has 
accomplished what the arm and hand never attempted, 
converting the power of the sunshine into blessings for the 
human race. 

The Sim is the original source of all energy used on this earth. 
The steam engine, the gas engine, the windmill, the water- 
wheel, the draft horse, and man himself are all prime movers 
to make use of the sun-power which comes to us in widely 
different natural forms. Steam and hot-air engines bum coal 
or oil, which contains the energy stored from sunshine in pre- 
historic vegetation, or wood and straw of more recent growth. 
The gas engine burns alcohol, which was stored up in the plants 
of this year's growing, or else products of coal and crude pe- 
troleum, which contain the power of the sun of past ages. 
The sim heats different portions of the earth's sur- 


Photograph by Underwood and Underwood 


Doukhobor women in Canada 

The Elephant in Ceylon 


face unevenly, and sets up air currents, which drive our wind- 
mills. It lifts water from the sea and drops it on the mountain 
tops. On its course back to the ocean the stream drives the 
water-wheel. The newly invented solar motor derives its 
power from the sun's rays, which it intercepts directly. Man 
and the draft horse obtain their power through assimilating 
the energy which the sun stores up each year in plants. Even 
the feeble wave motors are agitated by forces of which the 
sun is the centre. 

In the ordinary classification the electric motor is included, 
but it is not, strictly speaking, a prime mover, since it merely 
transforms into mechanical energy the electric current which 
has been derived from another source. The windmill, the 
water-wheel, and the wave motor intercept the motion of air 
or water in the mass and may be called gravity, or kinetic 
motors. The heat engines, by supplying the conditions for 
the oxidation of fuel, convert it into heat, thence into work. 
They derive power from the chemical changes that are produced 
and have been called chemical motors. These are by far the 
most important with which we have to deal. Possibly the most 
stupendous discovery in the history of the world was that the 
heat from burning materials could be made to do the work of 
men and animals. 

It is our ratention to devote space only to those motors used 
for plowing, hence we shall pass over wind, wave, water, solar, 
and hot air motors with a mere mention and discuss the electric 
motor briefly, in its proper order. The world over, the animal 
is most common motor for plowing. Human labor is still put 
to this wasteful use in a few countries, including even Japan 
and modem Switzerland. In all countries, however, which 
are not so densely populated as to make live stock raising 
practically out of the question, the inhabitants have substituted 
brute labor for human muscle. The picturesque water buffalo 
is the common beast of burden in the Phillipines, both for 
agriculture and transportation. In the land of the Pharaohs 


and in Asia Minor, the "Ship of the Desert" is made to turn 
the inland soil. 

The ox is the major source of power in Mexico, Central and 
South America, and in many of the rough and stony portions 
of the coast countries. We find him often on the Western 
plains, relieving the shortage of power. The ox is still better 
adapted to some conditions of work than the horse. He 
is deservedly popular among the rocky hills of New England, 
where docility, slow but powerful movement, and a sure foot 
are valuable characteristics. On the other hand, the steer 
at work moves at about two thirds the speed of the ordinary 
farm horse, and pulls only an equal load. He is not adapted 
to a faster pace for quick transportation, and was long ago 
dethroned by the swifter horse. South of Mason and Dixon's 
line the mule and the ox probably equal the horse in numbers. 
However, in the United States as a whole, the horse far out- 
numbers all other beasts of burden and may be considered as 
the standard draft animal. 

After a struggle of forty years the traction engine has found 
a permanent place in the plowing field. We now find American 
traction engines plowing large areas in our own West, in Canada, 
Russia, and the Argentine. English steam tractors have long 
been in use in all parts of the world. Steam engines in use 
♦for plowing undoubtedly outnumber gas tractors, even in North 
America, where the latter have been increasing most rapidly 
in numbers. But the internal combustion, or gas, tractor is 
coming rapidly into favor, and possibly this year, for the first 
time, its sale will surpass that of the steam tractor in the 
plowing field. The majority of gas tractors built are now used 
for plowing, whereas many smaU steam tractors are built sim- 
ply for threshing in the Central and Eastern states. The use 
of the electric motor for plowing is as yet confined to a few iso- 
lated localities in Europe, notably in Germany and Italy. 



IN DISCUSSING motors and power it is convenient 
to use engineering terms which are not in general 
use in ordinary Uterature. That portion of the 
subject of dynamics which treats of the measure- 
ment of power is therefore touched upon briefly in the defini- 
tions included in this chapter. 

Force is any cause which tends to produce a change in the 
motion of one body with respect to another, either in rate or 
direction. All bodies above the earth tend to approach it 
in obedience to the force of gravity. To lift a body, an 
outside force must be applied to overcome the gravi- 
tational force. The resistance offered by^ the action of 
gravity may be measured by noting the ability of various 
amoimts of any substance to compress or extend springs of 
a given size and material, or in other ways. The unit of 
measurement of gravitational force, or weight for English- 
speaking countries, is the poimd weight avoirdupois, which 
is the weight, or resistance to a lifting force, of a certain 
mass of platinum, preserved in the office of the exchequer 
in London. 

Work is produced when a force acts to move a body through 
some distance in opposition to resistance. The resistance, 
for example, may be that of gravity; of friction, as when a body 
is dragged over the ground or a mass of machinery is made to 
move in spite of the adhesion between the metals in contact; 
inertia, as when a body is first put in motion or its rate or 



motion changed; or of tension, as when a spring is compressed 
or extended beyond its normal state. 

In English-speaking countries the standard measure of 
distance is the British standard yard, which is the distance at 
a temperature of 62° F. between two marks on a certain bar 
of bronze, deposited in the British office of the exchequer. 
The usual measure of distance is one third of the yard or 
one foot. 

If a force of one pound is exerted, either in lifting a pound 
weight or in overcoming an equal resistance in a lateral direction 
and this force be exerted through a distance of one foot, the 
work done is the product of force times distance, or one foot- 
pound. This is the common unit for the measurement of work, 
though in the same way we might have other units such as 
"inch-pounds" or "foot-tons." The common term "ton- 
mile" is not to be confused with these. The ton-mile is simply 
the moving of a weight of one ton over the distance of one mile 
on the surface, or the quivalent of this result, regardless of the 
fact that more work will be required at one time to produce 
a ton-mile than another, owing to the varying resistance oflFered 
by diflFerent vehicles and road surfaces. 

Energy is the abihty to do work. In compressing a spring 
a certain force acts through a certain distance, the product 
being a definite quantity of work. The spring becomes en- 
dowed with energy, which has been stored up at the expense 
of the force which compressed it, and is then able to do work on 
another body. The crankshaft of an engine can be made to 
revolve by means of the energy transmitted through the pis- 
ton, and in turn will give off work to other masses. Work will 
be required to lift water to a given height, but work can be 
recovered from it as it flows to a lower level. Energy is the 
equivalent of work in a potential state. Any form of energy 
can be transformed into any other form. Thus, a fuel which 
contains a chemical energy can be burned under a boiler to 
produce heat energy. This heat may be transformed by a 


Brake test 

Dynamometer test 



piston and cylinder into mechanical energy for turning the 
generator. The generator will produce heat, which will return 
into the air, whence it originally came. Energy is never lost 
nor destroyed, but at each step in the foregoing cycle, some 
may be transformed into heat and escape without doing use- 
ful work. When energy is expended by a certain agent, some 
other material inevitably receives energy in the shape of work 
or otherwise, the total being exactly equal to the energy stored 
in the original source. 

The toy engine may in time produce many millions of foot- 
pounds of work. The large engine in a central power plant 
may do an equal amount with a few strokes of the piston. In 
order to make a comparison of engines we must bring in the 
element of time — i. e., the unit of power must take into 
account not only the amount of work done but the rate of 
doing it. The unit of power accepted in English-speaking 
countries is the horsepower (h. p.), which represents a power 
output of 550 foot-pounds of work per second, or 33,000 
foot-pounds of work per minute. This might be done by 
lifting a weight of 1100 pounds one foot in two seconds, or 275 
pounds two feet in one second, or some such equivalent. 
The product of force times distance, divided by time, will 
always equal 550 foot-pounds per second, for each horsepower. 
One horsepower exerted for the period of one hour gives rise 
to another unit of work known as the horsepower hour (h. p.- 
hr.) is frequently used in determining the fuel efficiency of a 

Every engine will waste a certain amoimt of energy in over- 
coming friction within itself, besides the waste involved in 
transforming energy from the chemical to the mechanical 
state. Of the power generated in an engine cylinder, from 2 
to 25 per cent, may be lost as compared with the work 
which will be done at the flywheel. Of the latter amount 
still another portion will be lost in a traction engine in over- 
coming the friction in the transmission system, and in moving 



the weight of the tractor itself over various grades and surfaces. 
In order to compare these various losses a number of tests have 
been adopted to determine the efficiency of the engine in various 

The work done in the engine cylinder is known as the in- 
dicated horsepower (i. h. p.). It is always less than the energy 
which is supplied to the engine in the shape of fuel. In the 
steam engine the first losses occur in imbumed gases and bits 
of carbon that pass out of the chimney; in unconsumed fuel in 
the ashes; and in radiation from the boiler, steam pipes, and 
the cylinder itself. The indicated power is calculated by the 
aid of an apparatus known as the indicator. This consists of a 
small cylinder containing a piston and spring; a larger cylinder 
or drum for holding a sheet upon which a record may be traced; 
and mechanisms for controlling the movements of the recording 
pencil and the drum. The piston of the indicator, which is 
usually one inch in area, is exposed directly to the pressure with- 
in the cylinder by means of a pipe connection. The pressure 
on the piston compresses a spring, the resistance of which has 
been calibrated by determining the number of pounds neces- 

IndicatoT cards from actual charts of steam and gas engines 

sary to compress it one inch in length. A reducing movement 
connected to some reciprocating part of the engine, such as 


the cross-head, rotates the drum on which the record sheet Is 
placed in exact accord with, and in proportion to, the movement 
of the piston of the engine. The pencil is raised and lowered 
vertically by the movement of the indicator piston. The result- 
ing diagram on the recording sheet is what is known as an 
indicator card, the area of which in inches, divided by the 
length, and multiplied by the resistance of the spring, gives 
the average pressure per square inch during the working 

Since the pressure is known and the area of the piston can 
be calculated from the diameter, it is necessary only to know 
the length of the piston stroke in feet to get the foot-pounds of 
work produced at each stroke. By applying a revolution 
counter or speed indicator to the flywheel of the engine we may 
determine the number of revolutions per minute. In the steam 
engine two power strokes are made to each revolution of the 
flywheel. In the ordinary foiur-cycle, throttling-govemed, 
single-acting type of gas engine, there is but one power stroke 
to two revolutions of the flywheel. In some types, the number 
of explosions is still less, and must be counted in some manner, 
in order to determine the number per minute. The foot-pounds 
of work at each stroke, multiplied by the number of power 
strokes per minute, gives us accurately the amount of power 
developed in the cylinder. The formula for i.h.p. is: 

*• °- P — 83.000 

in the case of the steam engine, and 



in the case of the four-cycle, single-acting, throttling-govemed 
gas engine, in which P = mean effective pressure, (m.e.p.) in 
pounds per square Inch during the working stroke; L = length 
of piston stroke, in feet; A — area of piston in square inches, 
and N = number of revolutions of flywheel per minute. 

In determining the power at the flywheel of an engine. 


what is known as a brake test is made. To the flywheel is 
clamped & friction brake, from which extends a long arm, which 
is usually supported by a column resting on a platform scale. 
This arm has the effect of increasing the diameter of the flywheel. 
The flywheel must revolve against the resistance offered by 
the brake. The brake arm also tends to revolve and is pre- 
vented from doing so, the force required to support it being 
expressed in pounds upon the beam of the scale. The result 
produced is that of a certain resistance in poitads, moving at 
a rate equivalent to the speed of the flywheel, times the cir- 
cumference of a circle which has as a radius the length of the 
arm from the centre of the flywheel to the point of support 
at the outer end. 

By formula, the brake horsepower (b.h.'p.) equals: 
Circumference (2XLX3.U16)XNXF 

in which L = distance in feet from the centre of the crankshaft 
to the point of support for the outer end of the brake arm; N = 
number of revolutions of the flywheel per minute; and F = 
weight shown on the scale beam. 

The b.h.p. must always be less than the i.h.p., due to the 
friction of the valves, piston, bearings, etc. The best engine 
is naturally the one which wastes the least power in developing 
work. For comparison, engineers use a term, mechanical 
efficiency, which indicates the percentage of the indicated horse- 
power delivered by the flywheel in a brake test such as just 
described. In the highest type of steam engines this is some- 
times 98 per cent. More often it is 85 to 93 per cent., and fre- 
quently as low as 75 per cent. In the gas engines of smaller 
type the mechanical eflBciency is somewhat lower, ranging from 
75 to 85 per cent., with occasional records of 90 to 93 per cent, 
in large stationary plants. 

In plowing with ordinary equipment, the best tractor is 
one which will deliver the largest percentage of its brake 
h.p. at the drawbar, all other things being equal. In other 


words, a plowing tractor should have the highest possible 
tractive efficiency consistent with other vital features. Tract- 
ive efficiency is properly estimated on the basis of the ratio be- 
tween the drawbar, or tractive horsepower and the brake h.p. 

Tractive horsepower is ascertained by noting the speed of 
travel and determining the resistance of the load by means of 
a traction dynamometer. This instrument consists fundamen- 
tally of a calibrated spring which may be attached between 
the engine and its load. The tension on the spring causes it 
to move a pointer upon a dial that is graduated to show the 
resistance in pounds. There may also be a mechanism operated 
by clockwork for driving a graduated tape at a speed propor- 
tioned to the duration of the test. A recording pencil attached 
to the pointer traces an irregular autograph, the average dis- 
tance of which above the base line gives the average draft 
diu:ing the tests. The distance traveled in a given time, 
together with the resistance, gives the tractive h.p. 
For example : A tractor moving at the rate of two miles per hour, 
travels in one hour 10,560 feet, or 176 feet per minute. If the 
average resistance or draft is 7,500 poimds, then in one minute 
the tractor does 1,320,000 foot-pounds of work. This divided 
by 33,000 gives 40 h. p. as a result. By cancellation of constant 
factors we arrive at a much shorter formula, which is: Speed 
in miles per hour X drawbar pull -^ 375 = tractive h.p. 

The object of a heat engine is to convert the chemical energy 
of the fuel into mechanical energy. All other tilings being 
equal, the most efficient motor is the one which will deliver the 
largest amount of this energy as useful work. In order to 
compare engines in this respect it is necessary to reduce the 
energy supplied in the fuel and in the work recovered to the 
same basis and thus determine the thermal efficiency of the motor. 
In order to determine the heat value of different fuels, engineers 
have adopted units of comparison. For English-speaking 
countries the standard is the British thermal unit (B.t.u.), 
which is the amotmt of heat necessary to raise the temperature 


of one pound of pure water from 62° to 63° F. The amount of 
heat units in fuel or food can be determined by exploding a 
given quantity in a bomb-like vessel known as the calorimeter, 
and noting the rise in temperature of a measured quality of 
water surrounding the vessel. The calorimeter derives its 
name from the French heat unit, the calorie. This represents 
the amount of heat to raise one kilogram of water (2.2.pounds) 
one degree on the Centigrade scale, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. 

By careful experiments, it has been found that one B.t.u. is 
equivalent to 778 foot-pounds of work. In other words, the 
energy required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahren- 
heit in temperature is equivalent to the energy required to lift 
a weight of 778 pounds one foot vertically. One calorie, then, 
is equivalent to 3.97 B.t.u., or 3090 foot-pounds of work. Since 
the energy delivered by an engine and the energy in the fuel 
may thus be reduced to a common basis, it is possible to de- 
termine the proportion of the heat that has been recovered 
in work. 

For example: Let us assume that an internal-combustion 
engine delivers 1 h.p. at the flywheel for the period of one hour 
for every pint of kerosene consimied. By previous calculations 
we have found that a poimd of this fuel contains 20,000 B.t.u. 
and that the fuel weighs 6.7 pounds per gallon or .8375 pound 
per pint. Then for each h.p.-hr. of work recovered we will 
supply to the engine .8375 x 20,000, or 16,750 B.t.u., equiv- 
alent to 13,031,500 foot-pounds of energy. In one h.p.-hr. 
there are 33,000 x 60 = 1,980,000 foot-pounds of work. The 
ratio of foot-poimds of fuel energy supplied to foot-pounds of 
work recovered is, therefore, 1 :0.152, which is equivalent to a 
thermal efficiency of 15.2 per cent. The thermal efficiency of 
an internal-combustion engine usually ranges from 12 to 25 per 
cent., though an efficiency of 37 per cent, has been realized. 
Steam engines in large central plants, even of a compound 
condensing type, seldom reach a thermal efficiency higher than 
12 per cent. A steam traction engine under the best conditions 


will seldom show a thermal efficiency higher than from 4 to 6 
per cent. 

In the case of the steam engine there is still another efficiency 
which is frequently cited — i. e., boiler efficiency. Under 
ordinary conditions the traction engine boiler, which usually 
works in an exposed place with none too perfect insulation, has 
an efficiency of 50 to 55 per cent. In stationary engine practice 
the boiler efficiency often ranges from 65 to 75 per cent. 
This means that of the heat which is supposed to be generated 
by burning fuel in the fire box, from 50 to 75 per cent, is ab- 
sorbed by the water. The efficiency, of course, will vary widely 
with the type of boiler, the protection, the quality of water 
used, and whether or not salts from the water have been allowed 
to form a scale upon the flues and other surfaces exposed to the 
heat of the fire. 


IF WE look backward we will find the first horse 
a five-toed animal, no larger than a dog, paddling about 
in the marshes. With the drying up of the swamps 
he became a land animal, losing a part of his toes. 
In the wild state he was obhged to procure his own food 
and protect himself from his enemies. The weakest were 
eliminated by natural selection, and gradually the race increased 
in size and swiftness. Many habits, instincts, and char- 
acteristics developed during ages of the siu-vival of the fittest 
are not essential in the domesticated horse, but still endure 
to affect the efficiency of the animal in its present field. 

The present-day farm horse is largely a man-made product. 
Starting with the wild horse, man has molded the animal to 
suit his various needs. He has taken it out of its wild en- 
vironment, given it food and shelter, protected it from its 
natural enemies, lengthened its life by breeding from the 
hardiest stock, and by studying how to conserve its health and 
strength. He has studied its possibilities, made use of its 
natural characteristics, has produced widely divergent forms 
each fitted for a special purpose. However in nature, selection 
was slow, often accidental. Under man's influence the proc- 
ess has been only a little faster. Defects could be recognized 
and eliminated, but only by the slow process of mating and 
waiting for results. A fortunate breeder, starting with the 
best of stock, could not take over a dozen steps in advance in 
the course of a lifetime. The death of the best individuals 



might wipe out the work of years, and so could a seemingly 
capricious reversion to an abnormal or inferior type. Never- 
theless, the accumulated improvement of ages of natural se- 
lection, thousands of years of selection by man, and two and a 
half centuries of scientific breeding, has resulted in a class of 
animal motors suitable for all farm work, great in numbers 
and value, and vmderstood, almost by instinct, by every farmer 
in civilized countries. 

The earliest record of man's use of the horse occurs in the 
Bible. Apparently the horse was domesticated in Egypt, 
about 1740 B. C, and first used for the purposes of war. Three 
hundred years later, horse races were among the sports at the 
Olympian games, in Athens. Troops of wild horses in Tar- 
tary and in South America were first used for food, and then 
saddled. Although the prehistoric horse existed in North 
America, the modem type in its wild state undoubtedly springs 
from horses which were loosed by the earliest Spanish explorers. 
History shows that the business of war and conquest have 
done more to distribute the horse over the earth than com- 
merce. Horses were fit chattels only for kings in the palmy 
days of Egypt, and even as late as the tenth century, farmers 
in England were forbidden, by law, to harness the horse to the 
plow. The ancient Anglo-Saxon and Welsh records contain 
no reference to the plow horse, and the first notice of his use 
in field labor is given by a piece of tapestry, woven at Bayonne 
in the time of William the Conqueror. Even then he was 
attached to a light-running harrow. Now, and ever since the 
early decades of the nineteenth century, the horse has shoul- 
dered the burden of plowing, which fell upon the ox and the 
ass long before the Christian Era. 

The greatest and most lasting improvement of the horse 
came from deUberate crossing and selection. Robert Bake- 
well, in England, rendered enduring service by his improvement 
a the English cart horse, and founded on his work, we now 
ohve wonderful draft breeds, each revealing a certain ideal. 


The Percheron, Clydesdale, Belgian, Shire, and Suffolk are 
the most prominent in England and America, the Percheron 
being by far the most popular. 

The heavy horse of Flanders was crossed with beautiful 
Arabs, taken from the Saracens at Tours, in 732 A. D., after 
the world's greatest battle. To this mating we owe the modem 
Percheron, whose fire, beauty, action, and massive utility have 
carried him to the front. Along the Clyde, we think of the 
bagpipe and the Scottish Lowlands, where his strong, lanky 
frame, his rapid, easy action, and his endurance on long hauls 
have made him popular. The Shire is descended from the low- 
built English war horse, which even the Romans were forced 
to admire when they landed in Great Britain under Caesar. 
He is now best adapted for slow, heavy work. The Belgian 
is a direct descendant of the old horse of Flanders. He, too, 
is heavy, massive, stocky, and adapted to slow, heavy work 
in a congested city thoroughfare. The Suffolk is muscular, 
active, durable, of lighter weight, and especially adapted for 
rather diversified farm purposes. These breeds have all been 
widely used for crossing with grade stock to produce more 
eflBcient motors. In America the bulk of the improvement 
of the native horse has been effected since the importation in 
1851 of Louis Napoleon, the first great Percheron stallion 

It is obviously impossible to consider the horse simply as a 
machine, since in nature he is self-feeding, self-controlling, self- 
repairing unless seriously injured, and self-reproducing — func- 
tions of which the ordinary traction engine is incapable. 
Certain disadvantages, however, tend to offset these good 
qualities, such as the necessity for education prior to useful- 
ness; frequent attention if confined; shelter from heat and cold, 
as well as from rain and snow; variety of foods; frequent 
rest; protection from disease and other enemies; and 
use in comparatively small power-units. Theoretically, 
according to Thurston, the animal is not a heat engine. 



Practically, we are concerned with the recovery in the 
shape of useful work of the largest possible percentage 
of heat imits supplied to any motor, and on this basis, 
at least, the horse and the machine may be brought into 
direct comparison. 


The animal mechanism is composed of (1) bones, which 
constitute a connected system of levers, with automatically 
lubricated joints; (2) muscles attached in pairs to these levers 
so as to resemble a series of independent motors capable of 
producing an alternating or reciprocating movement, like that 
of an engine piston; (3) organs of digestion, respiration and 
excretion for supplying fuel and removing waste, perhaps analo- 
gous to the automatic mechanical stoker and 
ash conveyor; (4) a brain and nervous system 
for regulating the action of the muscle motors, 
much as a battleship is governed by electric signals 
to and from the conning-tower; (5) a covering 
of skin and hair, like a dust-proof crank case, 
protecting all working parts from outside in- 
fluences, and conserving and radiating heat. 

The muscles, with which we are most con- 
cerned, are made up of bundles of fibers. Un- 
der the stimulus that come from the nervous 
system, these fibers have the power of contracting, 
but only through a short distance. For this rea- 
son they must work on the short ends of the bony 
levers in order to move them rapidly through 
space. In the human biceps, as measured by 
Professor King, the ratio of the long and short 
lever arms is as great as 6 to 1, hence to lift a 
weight of 50 pounds the muscle must exert a pull of 300 pounds 
on the shot end of the lever. Unlike the human body, 
which is best adapted to lifting and carrying weights, the 

Muscling of a 
horse's leg 


horse's frame and weight are better disposed to dragging loads 
over the surface of the ground. 

The fuel of the animal motor is in the shape of hay and grains. 
These contain various heat-producing constituents which, in 
order to become available as energy, must be transformed in 
the animal body into muscular tissue. Of the various grains, 
the horse can digest from 70 to 80 per cent, of the total nutrients. 
However, of the coarser feeds — such as hay and straw — he 
can recover only from 40 to 50 per cent., the remainder being 
discarded without benefit to the animal, much as the cinders, 
ashes, and unbumed gases pass out of the steam engine with- 
out being converted into heat. 

The food which is taken into the body of the animal is first 
chewed fine and softened by mixing with from one to four times 
its weight in saliva, to prepare it for the digestive juices of the 
stomach. These juices, aided by ferments ia the saliva and 
in the food itself, start the work of reducing the nutrients in 
the food to the soluble form in which they are taken into 
circulation. The horse's stomach has a capacity of but 
twelve to fifteen quarts, hence must be emptied several times 
during a meal. The liver and the intestines, therefore, 
perform, a large part of the work of digestion. This process 
of assimilation plays no small part in the total work of the 
animal body. A horse's jaws, moving eighty times per minute, 
will require from two and one half to three hours to chew the 
hay ration. From five to six hours for oats and six to eight 
hours for hay are required for the digestive organs to complete 
their work. Frequently, as is the case of straw, the energy 
required to chew and digest the food is greater than the energy 
recovered from it. 

The various foodstuffs are composed of classes of compoimds 
known as proteids, fats, carbo-hydrates, ash and water. The 
ash contains a small amount of nuneral matter required in 
the bony framework of the body, and the water is necessary 
for the free action of the various bodily functions. Otheirwise, 


these two classes have little energy value. Of the other three 
classes, the fats are usually unimportant in feeds for horses, 
being present in relatively small eunounts. They are, however, 
rich in heat-producing value, being about two and one quarter 
times as valuable in this respect as the proteids or carbo- 
hydrates. The fats consist of true vegetable fats and oils, such 
as cottonseed and corn oil, waxes, and various coloring matters 
in plants. 

The muscular tissue of the body is largely composed of 
proteids or nitrogen-bearing compounds. A certain amount 
of these compounds must, of course, be present in the feed, 
in order to maintain the body at its normal state. In the 
absence of fats or carbo-hydrates, the proteids may be used 
for energy. However, since they are usually much more 
expensive than the carbo-hydrates, the most economical 
rations contain only sufficient amoimts of various proteids to 
maintain the body. The bulk of the energy supplied to the 
work horse should come from the carbo-hydrates. This class 
includes the various sugars and starches, also the crude fiber 
or cellulose which give strength to the structure of the plant. 

The crude fiber is less digestible than the sugars and starches, 
but is equal to them in total heat value. Thus the animal, 
in a sense, is less efficient than a steam engine, which can make 
use of the entire plant, as, for instance, when straw is burned 
underneath a steam boiler. The horse at hard work has less 
opportunity properly to chew and digest the rough, coarse 
hay and fodder supplied, consequently wastes a much larger 
proportion than when at rest. On this account it is probable 
that the average farm horse receives much larger amounts of 
hay than he can economically use. Even at rest the horse is 
much less efficient than cattle or sheep in making use of the 
coarse material, such as hay and straw. The latter animals 
have greater capacity in the alimentary canal, consequently 
retain the food from 50 to 100 per cent, longer than the horse. 
This allows extensive fermentation to occur, consequently 


utilizing a larger proportion of the total heat value of the food. 
In comparing the horse and the mechanical motor, we 
encounter different standards of estimating efficiency. The 
engineer compares the total heat units in fuel supplied with the 
equivalent of heat units delivered by the motor as useful work, 
calling the ratio thermal effUnency. The physiologist determiaes 
a fuel value for a given feed by ascertaining the percentage 
of digestible nutrients, and on this basis, or one even more 
favorable, the animal's efficiency is frequently calculated. 

Of the fuel value, or digestible nutrients of the food, about 
SO per cent, is lost in the energy required to chew and digest 
the food; consequently there is a further value of the food, 
which is termed by students the maintenance value. This is 
the proportion of the food which can be utilized by the horse 
in maintaining his body weight while performing no work, 
and from this value can be calculated the ration which must 
be fed an animal in order to sustain it at a given weight during 
idleness. If less digestible food is supplied to the animal during 
such idle period than is necessary for its maintenance, the 
animal may draw on its store of muscular tissue or fat and con- 
tinue to live at the expense of weight. 

If work is required of the animal in addition to keeping the 
body at its normal size and condition, an excess of digestible 
food must be supplied, and experiments go to show that only 
about one third of this excess is actually recovered in the shape 
of external motion. This leaves, then, a value for the food which 
is known as the production value. In other words, out of the 
total heat value of the original food, we have now a value repre- 
senting the amount of external work that can be recovered from 
a given amount of feed. But even of the external work per- 
formed by the horse, a certain amount is used in moving his 
own body forward, since he is able to deUver work only when 
moving, and under the best conditions his efficiency is low. In- 
stead of a thermal efficiency (or ratio of work dehvered to food 
consumed) of 35 to 40 per cent., that has been proclaimed by 


various writers, including authorities of the United States 
Department of Agriculture, the real thermal eflSciency of an 
average horse, even at heavy, continuous work, is probably 
not more than 6 to 10 per cent. Many internal combustion 
tractors have done as well as this in draft tests, and some 
much better. 

Under laboratory conditions, with scientifically fed animals 
doing maximum work, a thermodynamic efficiency of 20 per 
cent, has been obtained, that is, one poimd of food has been 
turned into work for every four wasted. Farm conditions, how- 
ever, and even teaming conditions in cities, are vastly different 
from those of the laboratory. 


THE classic experiments of James Watt placed the 
working power of a 1600-pound cart horse at the 
abiUty to lift 33,000 pounds to a height of one foot 
each minute, whence came the term "horsepower." 
More recent experiments, however, indicate that the energy 
delivered by the average horse is nearer 22,000 foot-pounds per 
minute, or two thirds horsepower. General Morin, a French 
investigator, puts the horse's capacity at .79 h.p. Trautwine 
puts the net useful work of the average horse working in a 
circular sweep at 10,000,000 foot-pounds per day of eight hours. 
Assuming 85 per cent, mechanical efficiency for the sweep, this 
would be equivalent to practically f h.p. Langworthy, in 
Bulletin 125, Office of Experiment Stations, puts the total 
daily work of the average horse at 10,560,000 foot-pounds. 
Conclusions of expe imenters vary considerably, doubtless 
because they have worked under diflFerent conditions with 
horses of different size and individual merit. 

Numerous authorities unite in putting the working draft 
or pulling power of a horse at one tenth his weight when work- 
ing at the rate of two and one half miles per hour continuously 
for ten hours per day. Under these circumstances a 1200- 
pound horse will develop .8 h.p., and a 1500-pound horse 
1 h.p. Trautwine and King both state that if the hoiurs of 
work be shortened toward a hmit of five hours per day, the 
draft of the horse may be increased accordingly. They state 
also that between the speeds of three fourths of a mile and 
four miles per hour the working draft of the horse will be 



increased or decreased in inverse proportion to the rate of 
travel. The masimum draft of a horse at any time is about 
one half his weight, and can be exerted only for a short time 
without injury; however, there are numerous instances to show 
that for an instant a horse may actually exert a momentary 
pull more than equal to his weight. 

The proprietor of a very systematically managed ranch of 
25,000 acres, in Kansas, with records covering the work of 
large numbers of mules for thirteen years, puts the net furrow 
travel of a plow team, spending nine hours per day in the field, 
at from 1.5 to 1.75 miles per hour, depending upon the severity 
of the work. In other words, the plow will actually turn a 
furrow 1.5 to 1.75 miles long in an hour, after deducting for 
all stops, turns, etc. Assuming Trautwine and King to be 
correct as to the possible increase in draft during a shorter day, 
a 1000-pound mule on this ranch should be able to overcome a 
continuous resistance of 1000 -;- 10 X 10 -^ 9 X 2.5 ^ 1.75 = 159 
pounds. This accords closely with what may be concluded 
from a knowledge of the draft of plows. We may, therefore, 
assume Sanborn to be correct in his statement that 150 pounds 
may be regarded as the pulling power of the average plow horse. 

According to the investigations in Minnesota, the farm 
horse works from five to six and one half hours per day, as an 
average for the most active season. During this short day, 
he will be able to exert much more pull than his normal ca- 
pacity. Investigations in the Central states by one of the 
writers showed that the work animals on farms visited, aver- 
aged about 1300 pounds, but more than usual use was made of 
machinery and animal power. Placing the average farm horse 
in the West at 1200 pounds in weight, it is probable that for 
the short day he works at the plow, he is capable of developing 
under pressure one horsepower, which is equal to a draft of 
187.5 pounds at the rate of two miles per hour. 

The Bureau of Statistics, United States Department of Agri- 
culture, has for about nine years conducted careful investiga- 


tions as to the cost of producing farm products on a group of 
farms at Halstad, Minn., in the Red River Valley. Small grains 
are the principal crop on these farms, which average 379 acres 
in size, and conditions are quite similar to those where traction 
engines are more extensively used. The results of six years of 
iDvestigation are published ia Bulletin 73 of the above bureau. 

From data given therein we find that during the eight months 
from April to November, inclusive, 135 horses worked an 
average of 4.33 hours per week day, or a total of 906 hours. 
For 104 working days, during the four inactive months, the 
average was .77 hour per day. It is quite possible that these 
horses, which averaged about 1200 pounds in weight, exerted 
a full horsepower during every hour of work in the plowing 
season. On the other hand, during other seasons there was 
much time while the horses were in harness that they were 
exerting very little or no power, since the hours reported 
included the entire time they were in the field. 

As a yearly average, from 1905 to 1907, each horse at Halstad 
consumed 3.64 pounds of grain, and 6.55 pounds of hay for 
each hour of work. The grain ration was made up largely of 
com, oats and barley, and the hay ration of timothy, wild 
grasses, mixed hays, etc. Some pasturage and straw were 
received in addition to the foregoing ration. 

According to Prof. H. P. Armsby, of Pennsylvania State 
College, who is recognized as the foremost authority on animal 
nutrition in America, the total heat values per pound of com- 
mon feeding stuffs are as follows, the value in B.t.u. being 
computed by the writer from the value in calories: 


Calories B. t. u. 

Timothy hay 2045 8119 

Oat straw 2012 7988 

Qover hay 2025 8039 

Com meal 2010 7980 

Gate 2125 8436 

Wheat bran 2065 8198 

Linseed meal 2314 9187 


Feeds containing much fat or protein, or both, tend to run 
higher than the average, but ordinarily the total heat value 
does not vary widely as between the diflFerent feeding stuffs. 
If we assume the ration at Halstad to have been composed of 
mixed timothy and clover hay, and equal parts of com and 
oats, a total of 82,795 B.t.u. was supplied for each hour of work. 
This corresponds to a thermal eflSciency of 3.07 per cent,, on 
the basis of an average of .8 h.p. for the year. Langworthy, 
Rose, Chase, and others place the working power of the average 
horse at f h.p. during the time at work, which would reduce the 
efficiency to about 2 per cent, in pulling. For stationary work 
through a tread mill, or circular sweep, it would be at least 
one tenth less, due to the loss of efficiency in transmission. 
If the many hours of light work and the heat units provided 
in straw and pastured grass were also taken into consideration, 
it might safely be said that imder the given conditions the 
average farm horse returns in work only from 1 to 1^ per 
cent, of the energy supplied in foodstuffs. 

Contrary to popular opinion, the horse is even less efficient 
under conditions of diversified farming. On a group of 
smaller farms studied in the same manner, at Northfield, in 
southwestern Minnesota, more diversification of crops and 
live stock is found. Yet at Northfield each hour of work 
required 7.46 lbs. of hay and 5.5 lbs. of grain. From 
various sources it has been determined that the horse requires 
at least 2 lbs. of water at rest, and at least 3§ lbs. at work, for 
each lb. of dry matter, or from 70 to 100 lbs. per day, 
according to the weight of the animal, the ration, and the 
amount of work. 
[~ The great tax put upon the farmer by the necessity for 
maintaining horses throughout the winter months is shown by 
the fact that at Halstad, in addition to its care, the average 
horse received 9.8 lbs. of hay, 9.2 lbs. of grain, and an unre- 
corded amount of straw for each hour of work from Novem- 
ber to March inclusive. Roughly, this would furnish 155,000 


B.t.u. for hay and grain alone. The winter work being usually 
of very light nature, it is probable that out of 100 pounds of 
energy fed, less than one pound is recovered as work. Obvi- 
ously, these figures can be regarded as only approximate, 
since no tests have been made of the efficiency of the animal 
under the above conditions. They furnish, however, striking 
exceptions to the general idea as to the efficiency of the 
animal as a machine. 

If the energy which passes unchanged through the animal 
body; the energy required to chew a;nd digest food; the energy 
required to maintain vital processes and body heat; the energy 
required for moving the animal body — if all this be sub- 
tracted from the original heat value of the food, and only the 
energy liberated in the animal muscle during work be taken 
as a basis, an efficiency of 25 to 40 per cent, may be computed. 
This has been the foundation for the statement that the animal 
is a much more efficient machine, viewed solely from the stand- 
point of transforming fuel into energy, than any made by man. 
This is not always the case. Under farm conditions, where 
animals are worked only a few hours per day, on the average; 
where feeding is usually unscientific and wasteful; and where, 
according to T. H. Brigg, an English scientist, the horse 
often labors under conditions where 50 per cent, of his en- 
ergy is lost, the horse becomes a very inefficient motor, at 
least as regards the conversion of chemical energy into 
useful work. 

Neither animals nor engines are worked to their full capacity 
on the ordinary farm, but there is this difference: the fuel 
consiunption of the engine is measured by the amount of work 
done, plus only the energy required to overcome friction within 
the engine itself during the time at work, with nothing for 
maintenance during long periods of idleness. Speaking of the 
horse at rest. Professor Armsby says: "The case is like that 
of an engine run with no load, which still requires a certain 
amount of fuel to keep it running." Only rarely does 


the farmer understand and meet the food needs of the 
horse as accurately as the engineer meets the fuel needs of his 

The thermal efficiency of a motor is, however, not a true 
test of its value to the farmer. The economy or conunercial 
efficiency is of more practical moment. From the investigations 
at Halstad, Minn., we find the average farm value of food 
alone to be 4,3 cents for each hour of horse labor throughout 
the year. On the basis of 4.5 h.p. developed, the cost of fuel 
per horsepower-hour is 5.4 cents, and at f h.p., 6.5 cents. 
During the motor contests held in Canada in 1909 the cost of 
fuel per actual horsepower-hour was If cents for steam, and 
£ cents for gasoline engines, at stationary work, and approxi- 
mately double these figures in plowing. The higher fuel 
cost in Canada would tend to effect the difference between 
farm and contest efficiency. 

The data just quoted for the cost of horse feed were aver- 
ages of the period from 1905 to 1907. In 1910, according to 
the United States Crop Reporter, the price of grain is about 
25 per cent, above the average of those three years, and that 
of hay approximately equal. The costs shown for fuel were 
taken at Winnipeg, in July, 1909, and would be no higher at 
present prices. In Montana, grain is about 50 per cent., 
and hay 100 per cent., higher than in Minnesota, while the 
f cost of liquid fuel is also considerably advanced. Varying 
character and prices of both fuel and food affect the relative 
commercial efficiency of animal and mechanical motors in 
different sections, but in general farm practice the horse is 
less economical in the production of work from latent energy 
than the tractor, on either the technical or commercial basis. 



WITH the necessity for greater power, horse buyers 
have placed a premium on weight in advance of 
all other considerations. During the panic of 
1893, when the average price of horses was falling 
neariy 100 per cent., the sales by a leading firm of horse dealers 
in Chicago showed unmistakably the value of powerful animals. 
From 11.1 cents per pound for horses weighing 1400 poimds, 
the average price per pound on all horses sold that year con- 
stantly increased with added weight to 14.4 cents per poimd 
for 1800-pound animals. While many of these horses were 
bought for the city trade, the figures signify an awakening to 
the value of larger power units. 

The essentials of a heavy draft horse, such as will most 
economically develop power for plowing, are best set forth in 
some of the score cards in use at the leading agricidtural col- 
leges. In the one given herewith, weight, action, and the 
conformation of soundness of feet and legs are given their 
proper emphasis: 


CiAss, Geldino 
Oeneral Charactera 

Form — Broad, massive, blocky, low-down, compact, and symmetrical. 
Scale large for the age. 

Quality — General refinement of clean-cut and symmetrical features; bone 
clean, large, and strong; skin and hair fine, tendons clean, sharply defined, 
and prominent. V 



Constitution — Grenerous and symmetrical development; lively carriage; 
ample heart girth, capacity of barrel and depth of flanks; eyes full, bright and 
clear; nostrils large and flexible; absence of grossness or undue refinement. 


1. Height, estimated . . . bands; corrected . . . .hands 

2. Weight, estimated .... lbs. corrected. . . . lbs.; 

score according to age and condition 10 

3. Action, walk: rapid, springy, regular, straight; trot: free, 

balanced, straight .... 15 

4. Temperament, energetic, tractable 3 

5. Head, proper, proportionate size; well carried; profile straight 1 

6. Muzzle, neat; nostrils large, flexible; lips thin, even, firm 1 

7. Eyes, bright, clear, full, both the same color .... 1 

8. Forehead, broad, full 1 

9. Ears, medium sized, well carried 1 

10. Lower jaw, angles wide, well muscled 1 

11. Neck, well muscled, arched; throat-latch fine; windpipe large 2 

12. Shoulder, moderately sloping, smooth, snug, extending into 

the back . . 3 

13. Arm, short, strongly muscled, thrown back .... 1 

14. Forearm, long, wide, clean, heavily muscled .... 2 

15. Knees, straight, wide, deep, strong, clean ... 2 

16. Fore cannons, short, wide, clean; tendons clean, well defined, 

prominent 2 

17. Fetlocks, wide, straight, strong, clean 1 

18. Pasterns, moderately sloping, strong, clean 3 

19. Forefeet, large, even size; sound; horn dense, waxy, soles 

concave; bars strong, full; frogs large, elastic; heeb wide, 

one half length of toe, vertical to ground .... 8 

20. Chest, deep, wide; breastbone low; girth large ... 2 

21. Ribs, deep, well sprung; closely ribbed to hip ... 2 

22. Back, broad, short, strong, muscular 2 

23. Loins, short, wide, thickly muscled 2 

24. Barrel, deep, flanks full 2 

25. Hips, broad, smooth, level, well muscled 2 

26. Croup, wide, heavily muscled, not too drooping ... 2 

27. Thighs, deep, broad, muscular 3 

28. Quarters, plump with muscle deep 2 

29. Stifles, large, strong, muscular, clean 2 

30. Gaskins, long, wide, clean, heavily muscled .... 2 

31. Hocks, large, strong, wide, deep, clean, well set . . . 8 

32. Hind cannons, short, wide, clean; tendons clean, well 

defined 2 

33. Fetlocks, wide, straight, strong, clean 1 

34. Pasterns, moderately sloping, strong, clean 2 

35. Hind feet, large, even size; sound; horn dense, waxy; soles 

concave; bars strong, full; frogs large, elastic; heels wide, 

one half length of toe, vertical to groimd . . 6 

Total 100 


Youatt in his "Treatise on the Horse" quotes an old Eng- 
lish description which embodies most of the foregoing points 
in more imagiaative style: 

"A good horse should have three qualities of a woman — 
a broad breast, round hips, and a long mane; three of a lion — 
countenance, courage, and fire; three of a bullock — the eye, 
the nostril, and joints; three of a sheep — the nose, gentleness, 
and patience; three of a mule — strength, constancy, and foot; 
three of a deer — head, legs, and short hair; three of a wolf — 
throat, neck, and hearing; three of a fox — ear, tail, and trot; 
three of a serpent — memory, sight, and turning; and three 
of a hare or cat — running, walking, and suppleness." 




THE early history of attempts to apply the power of 
steam to the world's great work of transportation 
is of intense interest. The idea of the traction 
engine goes back to James Watt, the discoverer 
of steam. As early as 1759, his attention was called to the 
possibiUty of bmlding a carriage to be driven by steam. His 
partner, Mathew Boulton, was later urged to construct such 
a "fiery chariot," but the first self -moving steam carriage was 
apparently built by a French army officer, named Cugnot, 
whose second engine, built in 1770, is still preserved in Paris. 
Sixteen years later an American, Oliver Evans, asked 
the Pennsylvania Legislature for a monopoly on his 
method of applying steam to the propelling of wagons. 
From this time on, until Stephenson's railway locomotive 
of 1825, inventors of steam carriages were nimierous 
in both Europe and America. However, the prevail- 
ing idea up to the time of Stephenson's invention and 
even later was the development of steam carriages for 
the transportation of passengers and freight over ordinary 

The first recorded steam plowing engine in the United States 
was that of J. W.Fawkes, who built in 1858 a plowing "drag," 
which he operated in Pennsylvania. A two-cylinder engine, 
with 9- by 15-inch cylinders, was geared to a drum six feet 



wide, which took the place of the drive- wheels. Steam was 
supplied by an upright tubular boiler, with 300 feet of heating 
surface. The driving drum was bulged in the middle like a 
barrel to permit of easy turning, the modern compensating gear 
not having been invented. This engine drew eight plows 
at the rate of three miles per hour over original prairie 
sod, hence steam plowing on a large scale is by no means 
a modem idea. Several other men in Connecticut, 
New York, and New Jersey were at the same time busy 
on traction engines for plowing. In 1871 the Royal Agri- 
cultural Society of England held trials extending over 
several months, in which the adaptability of all plowing 
and cultivating engines up to that time were thoroughly 
tested. Steam had been applied to the plow through 
cables by John Fowler & Sons, of Leeds, in much the same 
manner as their outfits are built to-day, and their 
tackle won high honors. In the meantime, the steam 
carriage as a factor in road transportation seems to have 
been lost sight of, largely because of rough roads, hos- 
tile public opinion, and the rapid development of steam 

A device for allowing the drive- wheels to travel at different 
speeds is mentioned in the early SO's, but the differential gear 
which has made the modem power vehicle so adaptable was 
not perfected until about 1870, when Prof. R. H. Thurston 
described it as "new and very neat." The friction clutch 
soon followed, still further adding to the easy manipulation 
of the tractor. From 1875 to the close of the century, develop- 
ment in American steam tractors was very rapid. Their 
utihzation in plowing began almost as soon as they became 
self-propelling. Their serious use for this purpose, however, 
is not recorded until in the years just preceding 1890, when 
scattered operators began to use the most powerful threshing 
engines of that day for plowing, with only moderate suc- 
cess. The steam engine is a century and a half old, but 


Transmission gear 

Complete steaiji plowing engine 


the steam plowing engine of to-day is a creation of the twen- 
tieth century. 


The steam tractor consists essentially of a boiler, engine, 
traction gearing, and wheels, with all the necessary fittings 
for carrying fuel and water, supplying these to the fire box 
and boiler, respectively, controlling lubricating the engine, 
and steering. Steam is generated in a boiler by the heat 
produced in the fire box and admitted to a closed cylinder, 
where it moves a piston. The piston rod drives a connecting 
rod which in turn causes a crankshaft to revolve. The power 
thus produced is transmitted by a belt to a machine requiring 
rotary motion to operate it, or is transformed into linear pull 
by a train of gears and the wheels which grip the ground. 
In discussing the steam engine, only those principles and 
devices employed on the leading plowing tractors will be 
included. This eUminates much that might be said of station- 
ary engines and of many traction engines which have been 
designed primarily for threshing and only partially adapted 
to the severe work of plowing. Some topics commop to both 
types of tractor are discussed more fully in the chapters devoted 
to the gas tractor. 


Steam is generated in a boiler to which heat is applied on 
one side of a metal surface, on the other side of which is water. 
The expansion of water decreases its density and colder water 
displaces it. The resulting circulation gives the entire mass 
a uniform temperature. On reaching a certain temperature, 
determined by the pressure upon the surface, the water boils 
and steam is formed. This takes place at 212° F. under the 
ordinary atmospheric pressure of 14.7 pounds per square 
inch. At higher altitudes the boiling point will be reached 


earlier, and in a steam boiler under considerable pressure, 
the boiling point will be higher. We have seen that it requires 
one B.t.u. to raise the temperature of one pound of water one 
degree F. However, to overcome the cohesion of the water 
particles and turn one pound of water into steam, requires 
the application of approximately 967 B.t.u. In evaporating 
water under pressure, not only this internal resistance, or 
latent heat, of the water itself must be overcome, but also 
the outside pressure upon it. With 100 pounds of pressure 
it requires a temperature of 337° F. to convert water into steam. 
During the evaporation of water into steam, the temperature 
of the steam will not rise above that of the water, but if heat 
be applied to the steam away from the water, it will rise in 
temperature and become a superheated, invisible gas. So 
long as it remains in contact with water, steam will carry some 
water in suspension, hence to produce absolutely dry steam, 
without superheating, is next to impossible under the con- 
ditions surrounding the ordinary boiler. The amount thus 
carried is seldom less than 2 per cent., but anything over 3 
per cent, is regarded as objectionable. 


Fuels used in the steam engine contain a high percentage 
of carbon, varying with the material, and amounts of hydrogen, 
sulphur, nitrogen, oxygen, moisture, and the mineral elements 
which make up the ash. Air is a feiirly constant mixture, 
composed of about four parts of nitrogen, one of oxygen, and 
traces of carbonic acid gas, (or carbon dioxide), water, nitric 
acid and ammonia. At a given temperature, depending on 
a number of factors, the free oxygen of the air will unite with 
the free carbon and other combustible elements to form the 
gases of combustion. Heat is thrown off as the union takes 
place, and the more perfect the combustion, the greater the 
heat produced. In an insufficient supply of air, for instance, 
a pound of carbon bums to carbon monoxide (CO) instead of 


A 40 horse-power tractor and its load in California 

The engine that plowed the field hauling the harvesters 

A steam tractor furnishing power for a threshing machine 



to carbon dioxide (CO'), and produces only 4480 B.t.u. instead 
of the 14,647 which should be secured. The hydrogen burns 
to form water (H'O), giving off 62,100 B.t.u. per pound. The 
sulphur forms sulphur dioxide (SO'), which in the presence of 
water, finally becomes sulphuric acid and accounts for the 
corroding effect of coal smoke on steel, for example^ on wire 
fences along railways. 


Types of Boiler 

Three classes of boiler are used on steam tractors — namely, 
the locomotive or direct flue, the return flue, and the vertical. 
In the first, which is practically universal on plowing engines, 
the gases pass from a fire box at the rear to the smoke box in 
front through tubes, or flues, two or three inches in diameter. 

Return flue boUer 

and thence to the stack. The boiler proper is separated from 
the fire box and smoke box by a boiler head or tube sheet, which 
is perforated to support the tubes. The fire box is practically 
a part of the boiler itself, being built into the boiler shell and 


partially or wholly surrounded by a water space connected 
with that of the boiler. In the vertical boiler the upright 
tubes are surroimded by water to a part of their height, the 
gases passing directly upward. This is not an economical 
type and is little used. The greatest fuel economy is secured 
by the return flue boiler, which takes the gases from the fire 
box to the front of the boiler and returns them through smaller 
flues to the rear. This type is less convenient to handle or 
repair than the locomotive type, and cannot so easily be 
adapted to the use of wood or straw. 

Boiler Construction 

Stringent laws in some states and provinces now prac- 
tically force the use on plowing tractors of a boiler shell com- 
posed of a cylindrical sheet with a single longitudinal seam. 
The seam may be lapped or the edges of the plate may be 
brought together and double riveted to reinforcing steel 
straps inside and out. Steel bolts and cap screws may be and 
sometimes are used, provided a reinforcing plate is riveted 
on the boiler. In most late types practically no bolts are 
used, either in the construction of the boiler or the mounting 
of the engine and shafting upon it. Steel wing sheets are 
riveted to the boiler for the support of these features, in place 
of the cast iron which was formerly used for brackets and 
various other parts not exposed to sudden change in tempera- 
ture. The boiler on a modern plowing engine can safely be 
run at 200 pounds pressiu-e, though 175 pounds is usually 
set by law as the maximum. The extreme severity of the 
work to which the traction engine is subjected, and the neglect 
which it suffers, are nowhere more emphasized than in the 
extraordinary precautions which engine manufacturers are 
required to take in constructing their boilers. 

Ordinary coal-burning 'locomotive boilers may be adapted 
for burning wood, corncobs, straw, etc. The wood-burning 
boiler requires simply larger grate openings, if any change is 

Sectional view of locomotive boiler 
Cleaning the boiler Rear mounted construction 

Single cylinder engine 


made. The straw-burning attachment consists of a rather 
long feeding chute with a trap door, a dead plate upon which 
the straw drops, short grates, and a brick arch which deflects 
the draft toward the incoming straw. The draft is consider- 
ably reduced, all the straw is consumed in the fire box, and the 
gases are fully heated before entering the flues. 

The boiler jacket, which may be composed of wood, asbestos, 
air spaces, or other non-conducting media, enca^sed in a gal- 
vanized steel covering, renders the boiler from 6 to 10 per 
cent, more efficient. Considering the exposed nature of the 
work, every plowing engine should be thus protected. 

The crown sheet — i.e., the top of the fire box — is arched 
in the best plowing engines in order to resist the pressure of 
the water and steam above it. The bottom of the fire box is 
either open or closed. If closed, the fire box is usually sur- 
rounded entirely by water. This gives additional heating 
surface and better circulation, provided the space at the 
bottom is kept free of sediment. In the open-bottom fire 
box the water legs, which extend down on all sides, are closed 
at the bottom. This allows the grates to be set lower, and 
the combustion chamber thus enlarged. It also allows easy 
removal of the ash pan and grates, for cleaning or relining the 
fire box. The draft may be admitted from either front or 
rear without reducing the heating surface. The fire box walls 
proper are held in place by tight-fitting threaded stay bolts, 
screwed through the plates of the boiler shell and the fire 
box. A set of rocker grates is usually installed, so that the 
fire may be kept clean without poking from the top, which 
invariably causes a loss of heat in unbiumed carbon. 

Owing to the small grate area which can be profitably pro- 
vided in a traction engine, it is necessary to have some means 
of increasing the draft. Engines are usually provided with a 
blower through which live steam can be passed into the smoke 
stack, a vacuum being created by its velocity and condensation. 
This method is used in getting up steam, the blower being 


turned on when suflBdent steam pressure to operate it has 
been secured by ordinary draft. When the engine is running, 
the exhaust steam is usually turned into the stack through an 
exhaust nozzle. The intensity "of the draft created by this 
means can, of course, be controlled. 

The water space in a boiler extends around the fire box and 
to some distance above the highest flues. Above this is the 
steam space, including a bell-shaped projection known as a 
steam dome, into which the driest steam rises. From the 
top of the steam dome extends the pipe for taking steam to 
the cylinder, this usually being protected by a wire gauze 
strainer in order to mimimize the percentage of water carried 
over into the cylinder with the steam. 

The Water Supply 

For supplying water to the engine the plowing outfit nec- 
essarily includes one or more portable tanks, which are usually 
made of steel with riveted seams. They have a capacity of 
from ten to sixteen barrels and are provided with a hand pimip 
for filling and emptying. A box on top affords space for 
carrying a considerable quantity of coal or odds and ends. 
On the engine, in addition to the water contained in the boiler, 
there must be tank capacity sufficient for at least an hour's 
run. Engines therefore carry from one to three tanks with a 
capacity of from fifteen to twenty barrels. These are usually 
placed to secure the most advantageous distribution of weight 
upon the drivers. It is now possible, by the aid of a hose- 
crane and steam jet, to economize labor and time by filling 
the engine supply tanks from the wagon tank without stopping 
the outfit. 

The traction engine boiler is supplied with water from the 
supply tanks either by a pump or an injector, and sometimes 
both. The pump may be attached to the cross-head of the 
engine, in which case it can operate only when the engine is 
running. A more convenient type is an independent steam 


1. Transmission gear 

2. Connecting rod 

3. Piston and cross-head 

i. Double eccentric reverse gear 

5. Single eccentric reverse gear 

C. Crankshaft of two cylinder engine 


pump, which is really a small steam engine working a plimger 
which is connected directly to the piston rod of the pump. 
The injector draws steam from the upper part of the boiler 
and feeds cold water into the lower part by the combined 
effect of the velocity and condensation of the steam. The 
injector is simple and satisfactory, provided it is properly 
chosen with reference to the conditions of its work. 

In order to protect the boiler from sudden changes in tem- 
peratiu-e due to the incoming of cold water, the latter is usually 
passed through a heater located between the pump and the 
boiler. The pipes are usually surrounded by the exhaust 
steam, though occasionally live steam is introduced directly 
into the water to raise its temperature. 

Safety Devices 

To prevent the water from being carried too high or too 
low, a glass water gauge and several try-cocks are connected 
to the boiler near the level of the crown sheet. A steam gauge 
is also provided for indicating the boiler pressure. The essen- 
tial feature of the steam gauge is a metal tube bent in semi- 
circvdar form. One end is attached to the boiler by a siphon, 
which keeps air in the tube and protects it from the heat of 
the live steam by a cylinder of water. The pressure of the 
steam upon the outside circumference of the tube tends to 
straighten it as water straightens a hose. The pressure is 
indicated upon a dial by means of a suitable link and needle. 

The steam engine boiler must be equipped with a safety 
valve for releasing the pressure when it rises to a certain point. 
Plowing engines usually have what is known as a spring or lock 
pop valve in which the valve is kept in position by a powerful 
spring which may be adjusted for action at different pressures. 

A soft metal plug, usually of Banca tin, which fuses at a 
lower temperature than iron or brass, is placed in the top of 
the crown sheet. Should the water become low, the plug will 
melt and the steam, pouring through, will put out the fire. 


Otherwise the sudden conversion into steam of the thin layer 
of water above the crown sheet might result in an explosion. 
The crown sheet must be kept covered under all circumstances. 
The difficulty of doing this on a descending grade has led to 
the adoption of special devices in some boilers to maintain 
water at a higher level over the crown sheet at such times 
than in the rest of the boiler. 

The boiler requires frequent cleaning unless very pure, soft 
water is used. This is especially true in the alkali districts 
of the West, where boilers become incrusted with a heavy 
scale in a week's time. Th's scale prevents the rapid conduc- 
tion of heat to the water. It also increases the danger of over- 
heating the metal, and it is thought that boiler explosions are 
frequently caused when a large mass of scale drops away from 
some overheated part, and a large quantity of steam is sud- 
denly produced. Convenient hand holes are placed at various 
points around the boiler and fire box, especially in the lower 
portion of the water legs, as the sediment naturally drops to 
the lowest points. In order to faciUtate frequent cleaning 
of the water legs, blow-off cocks are placed so that the sedi- 
ment may be blown out by steam. A large door on the front 
end of the smoke box enables the operator to get at the flues 
for cleaning them of soot and cinders. A spark arrester in 
the top of the stack, or else a sharp angle in the smoke box 
through which the smoke must pass, will collect the cinders. 
Some such provision is necessary for safety to siurroimding 

Boiler Power 

Boilers are rated as to horse power according to the amount 
of water which they will evaporate. The standard of the 
American Society of Mechanical Engineers requires the evapo- 
ration on one hour of thirty pounds of water from 100° F. 
under a pressure of seventy poimds, which is considered 
equivalent to evaporating thirty-four and one half from and 


A wreck in Missouri 

A broken bridge in Oregon 


at 212° F. The amount thus evaporated, compared with the 
heat units supplied in the fuel, determines the boiler efficiency. 
Another method of rating is by the area of heating surface. 
The heating surface includes all parts exposed to heat on one 
side and water on the other. It includes the crown sheet, 
the insides of all flues, the water legs, and the part of the tube 
sheet exposed to heat. It is customary to allow one horse- 
power for from 11.5 to 14 square feet of heating surface. This, 
however, gives a rating too low for the majority of traction 
engine boilers, on account of the forced draft commonly 


Types of Engines 

The majority of engines are of the simple, non-condensing 
type. In other words, the steam is expanded but once, and 
the exhaust steam is not condensed so as to retain its heat. 
They are not economical, therefore, as compared with those 
found in large stationary plants. In the compound engine 
the steam is usually superheated by passing it back through 
pipes in the steam space and fire box. It is admitted first to 
a small cylinder and again expanded in a larger one. Both 
cylinders work through a shorter range of temperature; less 
radiating surface is exposed to the high pressure steam, and 
much less material is required to make the small cylinder 
sufficiently strong for safety. There are very few compound 
engines on plowing tractors, though both tandem and cross- 
compound engines are used with good results. In the former 
the high and low pressure cylinders are placed end to end, 
while in the latter they are side by side. Some cross-compound 
engines may be converted at will into double simple engines 
for starting a heavy load or moving it at a slow speed. 

The larger and more powerful simple engines are usually 
equipped with two cylinders for plowing purposes. For 



light work, the double engine is hardly necessary. Prof. L. W. 
Chase says, in "Farm Machineiy and Farm Motors": "Al- 
though a double engine is more easily handled than a single 
one, there are only a few instances, such as plowing and heavy 
traction work, where its use is recommended for farm work." 
The single cylinder engine is the more economical of fuel and 
has fewer parts to get out of order. The double engine with 
cranks 90° apart can never be stopped on dead centre so as 
to require turning over by hand. (An engine is said be be on 
dead centre when a straight line will pass through the centres 
of the cross-head, the crankpin, and the crankshaft, so the 
thrust of the piston operates directly against solid metal 
instead of turning the shaft.) At least one crank is always 
in position to be acted upon by the connecting rod, and the 
two cylinders working together are able to start a heavy load 
easily and without damage to any part. The division of work 
between two cylinders naturally gives better balance and 
greater durability. 

As compared with the two-cylinder gas engine the double- 
cylinder steam engine gives four impulses to the crankshaft 
at every revolution of the flywheel, where the gas engine gives 
but one. On this account the crankshaft is not exposed to 
the same shock and vibration, hence is made much smaller. 

Tandem compound steam engine 

By way of illustration it may be said that the crankshaft on 
a well designed two-cylinder gas tractor developing 70 b.h.p. 


is four and one half inches in diameter, as compared with 
three and one half inches on a steam tractor developing 140 
b.h.p. A cross-section of the two shows the gas engine shaft 
to be nearly two thirds larger than the corresponding part on 
a steam engine of the same number of cylinders and double 
the power. 

The Governor 

One of the most vital points of the engine is the governor, 
which may be likened to the human heart in its importance 
and action, regulating as it does the energy delivered in ac- 
cordance with the need. The farm tractor never enjoys 
absolutely uniform working conditions. In fact, in plowing 
the variation in soil in single field, to say nothing of grades and 
other obstructions, creates enormous differences in the power 
required. In order to prevent the outfit from stalling on the 
one hand, or from running at an abnormal and dangerous 
speed on the other, a sensitive governor must be employed. 

The speed regulation is effected by means of a flywheel 
attached to the crankshaft, and a governor, usually of the 
throttling type, which regulates the admission of steam accord- 
ing to the needs of the load. The governor consists of two 
or more weights which are free to swing outward by centrif- 
ugal force, and in doing so pull down upon a spindle which 
operates the throttle valve, controlling the opening in the 
steam admission pipe. The governor may be set to maintain 
various speeds. If the governor permits considerable fluctua- 
tion of speed imder a constant load, it is either of poor design, 
poorly lubricated, or driven by a slipping belt. 


The steam passes through the throttle valve to the steam 
chest and thence through a valve to the cylinder. The ordi- 
nary type of valve on traction engines used in America is the 
slide valve. However, remarkably economical engines using 


poppet valves, such as are used in gas engines, are used on 
tractors abroad in connection with a system of superheating, 
and will undoubtedly be introduced into this country. The 
American plowing engines are aU double acting — i.e., steam 
is admitted alternately at either end of the cylinder. The 
valve must admit the steam, shut off the supply at the proper 
time, and hold the pressure while the piston moves to the 
other end of the cylinder, whereupon it must release the ex- 
haust steam. The valve is often double ported so as to take 
steam from both ends of the steam chest at the same time. The 
valve is sometimes provided with a friction ring which fits 
tightly against the cover of the steam chest so as to prevent 
steam from getting on top of the valve and increasing the 
friction. On some tractors what is known as a balanced valve 
is used in order to minimize the valve friction. The valve 
usually opens the inlet port before the end of the stroke so 
that full pressure may be exerted the instant the piston starts 
on its return trip. On practically all engines the exhaust port 
is closed before the steam has entirely escaped, to form a 
cushion and bring the piston to rest gently at the end of its 

Cylinder and Piston 

The cylinder is usually of cast iron, with one head cast on 
and one bolted. The piston is usually a hollow cast iron 
disk, fitted with two or three expanding rings for preventing 
the passage of steam between it and the cylinder wall. Since 
the engine is double acting, and both ends of the cylinder are 
closed, the piston rod moves back and forth through a stuffing 
box in the cast-on cylinder head, remaining paraUel to the 
engine frame. The connecting rod necessarily assimies various 
angles during the revolution of the crankshaft. The wrist- 
pin joining the piston rod and connecting rod is carried by 
the cross-head, the shoes of which move back and forth between 
curved guides, which are usually cast with the cylinder as 


part of the engine frame. A removable cover usually excludes 
dust and grit from the cross-head and guide. 

Control of the Engine 

If steam were fed at boiler pressure during the entire stroke 
it would convert only about 8 per cent, of its energy into work. 
For the sake of economy it is therefore necessary to admit 
steam during only a part of the stroke and allow it to expand 
during the remainder. An engine working at its greatest 
economy will cut off the admission of steam at from two fifths 
to one half its stroke. The throw of the valve which accom- 
plishes the variation in cut-off is under easy control of the 
operator. Where greater power is needed, the steam can be 
fed at practically boiler pressure the whole length of the stroke, 
and an enormous increase in power may be had, provided the 
boiler will continue to generate sufficient steam. This accounts 
for the great elasticity of steam for plowing and traction pur- 
poses as compared to the internal combustion engine, which 
will be discussed later. 

The motion of the valve must be controlled in order to 
reverse or stop the engine and to vary the point of cut-off. The 
means employed to reverse the valve motion can be used in 
intermediate positions to control the throw, and in neutral 
position to stop the action of the valve entirely. Since a 
separate crank for operating the valve is out of the question, 
an eccentric takes its place. This is simply a sort of crank 
formed by setting a disk off centre upon the crankshaft. The 
throw, or eccentricity, of the disk is twice the distance from 
the centre of the crankshaft to the centre of the disk. The 
valve push rod is driven by a strap which fits around the 
eccentric. It is evident that if the disk could be rotated about 
the shaft it would give the valve more or less throw, and event- 
ually cause it to move in the opposite direction. However, 
the setting of a valve is rather a delicate operation, and since 
the average operator is none too well qualified, a great many 


manufacturers key the eccentric immovably to the shaft. For 
convenience, a quicker method of shifting is required anyhow. 

Reverse Gear 

The two systems of reverse in common use are the single 
and double eccentric. The latter has two opposed eccentrics 
connected by suitable straps and push rods to a vertical curved 
link. Sliding in this link and connected directly to the valve 
is the link block. By lifting the link, or lowering it, the link 
block and valve will be actuated by first one and then the 
other of the eccentrics. This system contains a few more 
parts, but if provided with removable bushings it proves dur- 
able, and its simplicity and economy of steam make it very 
popular. In the single eccentric reverse the eccentric strap 
carries an extension, at the end of which is carried a pivoted 
block or roller. This is free to slide in a pivoted guide which 
drives the push rod. The angle of this guide may be shifted 
by the reverse lever so as to control the throw of the valve 
and reverse the engine. 


On a single cylinder engine the crankshaft is usually pro- 
vided at one end with a disk which carries a crankpin at a 
point near the rim. This is also known as a side crank. A 
double engine has also a centre crank, similar to that on gas 
engines — i.e., practically a bend, drop-forged in the shaft. 
The crankshaft should be supported by ample bearings, set as 
closely as possible to the crank. The proper diameter of the 
crankpin, upon which the force of the connecting rod comes, 
is given by good authority as at least one fourth of the cylinder 
bore, and the length as one third that of the cylinder. 

Flywheel and Clutch 

The flywheel is commonly attached to the crankshaft so 
that it revolves whenever the engine is in motion. It is usually 


wide enough to support an eight to twelve inch belt for driving 
stationary machines. It is evident that a friction clutch must 
be used which will allow the power to be apphed gradually to 
the traction gearing, otherwise the starting of a heavy load 
of plows would require great care and considerable time. 
This clutch is usually made up of two or more shoes, and the 
necessary collar and toggle levers for holding them against 
the inside face of the pulley or flywheel. The blocks or shoes 
are usually of wood and frequently faced with some special 
friction material. When the clutch is thrown in it locks 
itself in position without strain on the clutch lever. Some 
clutches are fitted with coimter weights, which lift the shoes 
from the face of the pulley by centrifugal force as soon as 
the clutch is thrown out. Means are provided for 
taking up the wear on the shoes so as to keep the clutch 
effective at all times. 


The power is usually transmitted to the traction wheels 
by a simple train of spur gears — i.e., cylinders with teeth 
cut on the circumference parallel to the axis. A driving pinion 
is attached to the friction clutch. This engages an inter- 
mediate gear, and this in turn a large compensating gear on 
the countershaft. Pinions on either end of the countershaft 
drive the large master gears, which are fastened to the traction 
wheels by either rigid or spring connections. On a few engines 
the power is taken from both ends of the crankshaft and trans- 
mitted by two complete sets of gears, making what is properly 
known as a double-geared engine. The intermediate shaft 
on late types is attached to the same wing sheets as the engine 

Differential Gear 

At some point in the transmission there must be a differen- 
tial, or compensating, gear to allow one drive-wheel to revolve 


faster than the other at times, and both to receive power 
equally when moving straight ahead. This is necessary be- 
cause of the unequal slippage of the two wheels in soft ground 
and the unequal travel in turning. The differential consists 
(1) of a large spur gear mounted loose on the countershaft 
or axle; (2) a series of small bevel or spur pinions mounted 
between the spokes of the main gear; (3) two gears standing 
in a vertical plane in mesh with the small pinions between and 
mounted on the shaft or axle. One of the two latter gears 
is keyed to the shaft, and the other to a sleeve revolving upon 
the shaft. Each is connected directly or by gears with the 
drive-wheel on that side. When both drivers move at the 
same rate, the small pinions do not revolve. When one wheel 
lags, the two compensating halves revolve in opposite di- 
rections to equalize the travel, and the main gear continues to 
transmit power to both sides. The differential, or counter, 
shaft is usually continuous, and the compensating halves 
and pinions beveled. When spur pinions are used, one com- 
pensating half is internal and one external — i.e., the teeth of 
the one extend toward the main shaft and the other outward, 
the spur pinions being arranged in pairs between. One small 
pinion in each pair meshes with each gear, the two pinions 
being side by side on a stud parallel with the countershaft. 


The majority of plowing en^es now sold have the counter- 
shaft and rear axle mounted at the rear of the boiler. The 
bearings for these shafts are commonly supported either by 
large cast iron iMrackets on the comers of the fire box or by a 
continuous wing sheet riveted at close intervals around the 
top and sides of the fire box. The rear mounted engines are 
sometimes hung en springs and links, which relieve the jar 
upon the boiler and engine without allowing the gears to become 
unmeshed. The wheels sometimes revolve on short axles which 
are mounted on brackets atta^ed to the side of the fire box. 


This effects a better distribution of weight for tractive effi- 
ciency on level ground than the rear mounting, unless the 
front wheels of the latter type tractor are set as far forward 
as possible. However, the side-mounted construction is more 
apt to lift the front wheels from the ground on a grade, and 
the fire box may be dangerously weakened in the compar- 
atively small area supporting the bracket. It is difficult to 
keep the stub axles rigid, and the drive-wheels tend to become 
closer together at the top, when, of course, the axle bearings 
wear unevenly and the gears are thrown out of proper align- 
ment. Truss axles extending underneath the fire box to each 
stub axle relieve the strain on the fire box, but do not prevent 
the unequal wear on the gears. On return-flue engines the 
wheels are often mounted on a continuous axle ahead of the 
fire box. On some very successful plowing engines a separate 
steel frame is made to carry the engine and gearing, so as to 
place no strain from these sources upon the boiler. This is 
known as the under-moimted or frame-mounted type. It 
accomplishes its purpose and makes the engine accessible at 
the expense of greater exposure of the working parts to dust 
and grit. 

Traction Wheels 

The patent expert of one of the great machinery companies 
once said' that in building a tractor he would Brst build the 
wheel and then the remainder. The traction wheel is a fun- 
damental point, for no matter how much power the engine 
may develop, or how efficient the traction gearing may be, the 
tractor will not be successful if the wheel fails properly to grip 
the ground. The effectiveness of the drive-wheel depends 
not only on its character, but upon the distribution of the 
tractor's weight. Nor will the same wheel with the same 
weight upon it prove equally efficient in all conditions. It 
has been claimed by advocates of special caterpillar and walk- 
ing wheeb that the slippage of the round-wheeled tractor ia 


never less than 6 per cent., and may reach 15 per cent, in ordi- 
nary footing; hence some have adopted exteme measures in 
order to produce an efficient traction wheel. For general 
purpose tractors, however, the problem narrows itself con- 
siderably. There are the alternatives of high or low wheels, 
and wide or narrow wheels, which, with the type of grouter 
or cleat, determine the gripping power of the wheel upon 
the soil. 

The increasing weight of tractors which has accompanied 
the great increase in power has necessitated careful considera- 
tion of the weight per unit of bearing surface upon the groimd. 
In standard tractors from two thirds to three fourths of the 
total weight is thrown upon the drivers when the engine is 
stationary, and the hitch may be so arranged as to lift con- 
siderable weight ofif the front wheels and place it upon the 
rear ones when plowing. At rest the weight per square inch 
of bearing surface is usually from one foiulh to one third 
below the pressure exerted by horses at rest. In plowing, 
however, the bearing surface is mostly forward of the 
centre line of the axle, and it is probable that this weight 
equals, or even exceeds, the figure for a horse's hoof, which 
is about twenty to twenty- three pounds per square inch. 
In order to increase this bearing surface and, incidentally, 
the friction of the wheel upon the ground, wheels have 
been increajsed in diameter in order to present a longer arc 
in contact with the ground, and in width further to 
increase the area. 

In extremely high wheels there is the difficulty of securing 
sufficieQt rigidity and strength without unduly . increasing 
the weight. The low, wide wheel produces greater 
strains upon the axle, and is at a further disadvantage 
in comparison with the high wheel, in that as the tire 
sinks slightly into the earth the tractor must constantly 
propel itself and its load up a slight grade. The percentage 
of the radius which sinks beneath the surface represents 


the grade, and the higher the wheel the less it will be 
affected in passing over soft ground or rough roads. In order 
to compromise, designers have had to sacrifice something of 
both advantages. 

The drive wheels on steam plowing tractors are not so ex- 
treme in variation as on gas tractors, since the engines are more 
nearly uniform in size and weight. The wheels are usually 
from 24 to 36 inches wide and 6 to 8 feet in diameter, with 
extension rims 10 or 12 inches wide. The built-up type of 
wheel is most common, with steel tires, to which are attached 
either round or flat steel spokes, which in turn are fastened to 
a cast iron hub. 

Steering Wheels 

The front wheels are usually of the built-up type, but are 
more often made with cast iron rims than the rear wheels. A 
flange or collar around the middle of the wheel prevents 
it from lateral slippage. Steering is done by guiding the 
front wheels, which are rotated with the axle by means of 
a chain winding shaft, worm gear, and hand wheel. At 
some additional cost a steam steering apparatus may be 
attached to certain engines whereby the heavy work of 
steering is performed by power and the wheels can be kept 
more rigidly in line. 


It is evident that different parts of the steam engine will 
require different methods of lubrication. Steam cylinder oil 
is a rather heavy liquid with a considerable percentage of 
animal or vegetable fat mixed with mineral oil in order to 
make it capable of emulsifying or mixing with the steam. It 
is commonly fed into the steam pipe outside of the throttle 
valve, and sometimes between the throttle and the cylinder as 
well. It may be delivered by a mechanically driven oil 


pump, or by a lubricator which feeds the oil by displacing it 
with water. The former is preferable, as it eliminates danger 
from freezing and is more economical and positive in its action. 
On the cross-head, crankpin, and similar places a sight-feed 
oil cup, feeding a rather thin oU by gravity, may be employed. 
For lubrication of bearings, however, the tendent^ is to now 
use grease cups and hard oil or greese, which is converted iuto 
a fluid by the heat of friction. In the compression grease cup 
the grease is forced on to the bearing by a plate and spring, or 
by screwing down the cover of the cup. For lubrication of 
the heavy gears axle grease is frequently employed, but since 
this is apt to form a grinding paste with the dirt and sand which 
are thrown up, means of washiag the gears by a drip of thin 
cheap oil are frequently employed. 

Modification of the Steam Plowing Traclor 

In some cases the traction wheels are made with removable 
cleats, and an attachment provided whereby a drum can be 
substituted for the front wheels, thus converting the engine 
into a road roller. Some tractors may be equipped with an 
attachment for running an elevator grader by the power of the 
engine. A level gear on the countershaft drives through a 
universal joint and telescopic shaft, doing away with loss 
occasioned by the failure of the light grader wheels to provide 
sufficient traction. English tractors equipped with cables 
for pulling plows have already been mentioned. Some Ameri- 
can tractors have a drum and short cable for pulling stumps 
or lifting the engine out of difficulty. Others may be provided 
with a derrick and cable to fit them for pulling stumps or for 
steam-shovel work. Very interesting modifications of the 
ordinary steam tractor are used in California in the soft re- 
claimed tule lands. Some of these have drive-wheels and 
extensions up to eighteen feet in width, and front wheels up to 
eighteen feet wide, the entire tractor being forty to forty-five 


feet wide. In other cases a type of caterpillar, or walking, 
wheel is made to cany the weight over ground which is so 
soft that horses can bring fuel and water to the outfit only 
over permanent roads, to which the tractor must go for its 


STEAM-PLOWING tractors range in size from 60 
to 120 rated brake horsepower, and a general 
ratio of brake horsepower to nominal rating is 
about three to one. In other words, steam tractors 
of the sizes used for plowing are rated at from 20 to 40 nominal 
horsepower. Practically every steam engine will carry at 
least 10 per cent, more load than is called for by the rating. 
Three classes of 20, 25, and SO to 35 nominal horsepower are 
manufactured by most engine companies. These will handle, 
roughly speaking, about seven, ten, and twelve or fourteen 
plows, respectively. Ordinary steam-plowing engines, fully 
equipped and ready for work, range in weight from ten to twenty- 
five tons. They cost from $1800 to $3000 in the United States, 
and possibly 30 per cent, more in Canada, owing to freight and 
duty. Many smaller tractors are made for lighter work, but 
since the steam engine is not so economical in small units for 
plowing, the larger engines are practically the only ones which 
have been constructed especially for this purpose. 

Some tractors are given only the brake rating, but it is cus- 
tomary to use the term "nominal" in rating engines for sale. 
This has no definite meaning, being simply the designation 
adopted by the manufacturer in listing his various tractors. 
Some tractors are rated on their actual drawbar horsepower 
under what may be assumed as average conditions. Naturally 
the matter of a tractive rating is very complex, since the con- 
ditions over which the tractor must run are widely variable. 



A standard basis for tractive rating, however, would be of 
great assistance to purchasers, since the differences in design 
will enable one tractor to deliver a greater percentage of the 
brake horsepower at the drawbar than another. This is a 
matter which has been the subject of considerable discussion by 
agricultural engineers, but as yet no solution has been reached. 

Unfortunately, no scientific tests of tractive eflSciency have 
been conducted in this country, at least, not for the benefit 
of the public. The pulling power of the tractor depends on a 
great many different factors, such as the total weight, the 
weight in relation to the area of the supporting wheels, the type 
of transmission, and the distribution of weight upon the front 
and rear wheels. The tractive efficiency has usually been 
estimated by comparing the brake horsepower developed in 
one test with the tractive horsepower developed in another. 
However, this ^ves no check on the comparative amounts of 
power developed at the crankshaft, and is apt to be very 
misleading. After holding down the power of any tractor on 
a brake test it can be made to show a high proportion of this 
power at the drawbar simply by increasing the brake horse- 
power developed during the tractive test. This automatically 
increases the fuel consumption in a given length of time, hence 
the increased drawbar horsepower will be at the expense of 
fuel consumption. A more accurate but still imperfect 
method has been to base the tractive efficiency on the relative 
fuel consumption in the brake and tractive tests. 

In July, 1909, during tests at Winnipeg, four steam engines 
had a total weight of 585 pounds per inch in width of drivers, 
and 456 pounds for each brake horsepower developed on 
economy tests. Over a firm plowing course they were able 
to show 56.6 per cent, as much power at the drawbar as at the 
belt in the economy tests. Over a hauling course, which 
presented nearly every possible condition of ground from pave- 
ment to sand patch, the limitation of the load by the bad spots 
reduced the drawbar horsepower to 29.3 per cent, of the economy 


load. The ratio of fuel per brake horsepower-hour to fuel per 
drawbar horsepower-hour was 59.9 per cent, in plowing and 
34.4 per cent, in hauling. During the two-hour hauling tests 
the steam tractors,traveling at from 2.04 to 2.34 miles per hour, 
developed individual averages of 25 to 34 actual drawbar horse- 
power in moving the dead weight of other steam tractors rated 
at from 25 to 36 h.p., one engine being used as a load in each 
case. In plowing tests conducted in 1910, six steam tractors 
plowing on firm sod ground showed a tractive eflScienc^, based 
on comparative fuel consumption, of practically 48 per cent. 
These figures quite effectively illustrate the tractive efficien(^ 
which may be expected of the average steam tractor in con- 
ditions where the footing is neither the very best nor the very 
worst that might be found. 

A mean of percentages indicates that the wught borne by 
the drive-wheels of the steam tractors at Winnipeg in 1910 
was about 73.5 per cent, of the total. In plowing, the steam 
tractors showed an average drawbar pull of 26 per cent, of the 
total weight and 36 per cent, of the weight on the drivers. 
In plowing, the preceding year, the drawbar pull was ap- 
proximately 11 per cent, of the total weight in hauling and 22 
per cent, in plowing. Averaging the plowing and hauling tests 
for 1909, the steam tractors have credit for one tractive horse- 
power for each 1033 pounds of total weight. 

Steam tractors are as a rule geared to run somewhat higher 
than gas tractors, but owing to the many delays incident 
to starting and taking on supplies, they actually net only about 
15 miles of furrow travel in ten hours as compared to 17.5 
for the latter. In the various motor contests, however, where 
the start has been made with steam up, and every facility 
provided for keeping outfits in motion, the steam outfits as 
a whole have shown higher net speeds than the gas tractors. 

The indicated horsepower of steam tractors is tometimes 
specified, and in general practice the indicated horsepower 
will be from 20 to 25 per cent, above the manufacturer's brake 



rating. The mechanical efficiency will range from 85 to 93 per 
cent. In the Winnipeg motor contest of 1910 the steam en- 
gines carried an average of 97 per cent, of their rated brake 
horsepower in an economy test and 132 per cent, in a maximum 
test. The drawbar horsepower was 95 per cent, higher than 
the nominal rating. Steam tractors are not as a rule over- 
rated. However, their power for steady work is much less 
than could be maintained on a short run, unless a much larger 
boiler is provided than usual for a given size and speed of 

Steam tractors have competed in three motor contests held 
in Canada during the last several years. The following table 
shows the average coal and water consumption of all engines 
in the economy tests in these competitions. It is not to be 
supposed that the load in every case was exactly at or even 
near the point of greatest economy, though this condition was 
usually aimed at. There was but one test of a compound 
engine on the brake, against six single and eleven double cyl- 
inder engines. In plowing there were four single and six double ; 
and in hauling, one single and three double. To these figures 
there should be added a certain percentage of coal and water 
used in actual practice in getting up steam, and for waste 
after the close of the day's work. 

FomnM or coal and wateb used feb deutebed hobsefoweb peb Hons 


Single Cylinder 

Double Cylinder 






















Steam tractors as a rule use from seven pounds to eight 
pounds of water per pound of coal. Reports from 333 plowing 
engines of all types in the United States and Canada indicate 


an average of 7.67 lbs. Twenty-four public brake tests 
show a mean of 7.78 lbs.; sixteen plowing tests 7.08 lbs., 
and four hauling tests 7.4 lbs.; or a mean of 7.42 lbs. for 
the forty-four tests. Single-cylinder engines show a range of 
from 5.78 lbs. to 9.97 lbs.; and double-cylinder from 3.3 
to 10.3, according to official reports. Conditions were such 
however, as to arouse doubts as to the accuracy of such ex- 
treme figures. By making enough assumptions one can com- 
pare these data with those furnished by operators of eleven oil- 
burning steam engines in California. These men report the 
use of 9.4 gallons of water per gallon of oil. Assuming the oil 
to be of 20° Baume and to contain 20,000 B.t.u. per pound, 
they used 1990 B.t.u., in evaporating one pound of water. 
The ordinary run of coal used contains not over 13,000 B.t.u. 
per pound; hence 1700 to 1740 B.t.u. would be furnished per 
one pound of water. 

The cost of operating a steam tractor varies even more 
widely than that of operating the gas tractor. The various 
conditions are fully covered in Bulletin 170, United States 
Bureau of Plant Industry, from which the average performance 
of steam tractors as shown in 1907 and 1908 can be ascertained. 
The following quotation gives quite accurately what may 
be expected of steam tractors taken as a class, except that the 
great improvement in both engines and plows, even in the short 
interval, has added greatly to the efficiency of outfits. In 
addition, the rapid education of operators, the improvement 
in other equipment for use with engines, and the tendency to 
use the tractors for a longer period of time each year, would 
all help to increase the performance and reduce overhead 


In view of the extreme variation in conditions encountered by individual 
operators, any averages of results must be taken with due regard for local con- 
ditions. The following table presents a summary of the data taken from re- 
ports complete enough to give the desired information. These include results 


for a part of the season of 1908. For the purpose of comparison, two columns 
are shown for Canada. The first is from direct reports from oi>eTators. In the 
second column averages are taken from the annual traction-plowing numbers 
of the Canadian Thresherman and Farmer, from 1905 to 1909, inclusive, and 
represent 214 letters of steam plowmen in answer to that journal's annual 
circular letters on this subject. A small percentage of the letters are dupli- 
cated — that is, they are from the same operator in different years — and 
several correspondents reporting under colmnn 1 are also found under column 
i. The avetage of coal used given in coliunn 2 is from 150 operators, many 
using either wood or straw or not reporting at all. Those using wood report 
about two cords a day as an average. The average number of barrels of water 
used by Canadian operators apparently varies greatly. However, a difference 
in standards may explain the variation. If the 72.8 barreLs in column 1 were 
of 31.5 imperial gallons of 10 pounds each, and the 57.1 barrels in column 2 
were of 42 imperial gallons, the water used per pound of coal would be 7 . 21 and 
7.82 poimds, respectively. It is difficult otiierwise to account for such a wide 


Data in reference to steam-pUnring outfits operated in California, in the 
Southroestem and the Northwestern sections of the United States, and in 


Number reporting 

Acres plowed annually for 


Acres plowed annually for 


Acres plowed annually, total 
Percentage of custom plowing 
Size of engine (horsepower) ' 

Cost of engine 

Number of plows 

Width of furrow cut (feet) ' . . 

Cost of plows" 

Hours of work each day .... 
Miles covered each day ' 




























































> Brake horsepower. Nominal or tractive rating about 60 horsepower. 

' Less than one-fifth of the outfits reported in the Southwest use moldboard 
plows. These average 9.18 bottoms, cutting 10.7 feet, and cost $561 each. 
From 10 to 20 disk plows would be used to cut the average of 13.2 feet reported. 
These sets average $428 in price. The figures in the table are for the average 
of both types. 

' "Miles a day" is miles traveled with plows in the ground, as figured from 
the daily acreage and the average width of the furrow. The distance traveled 
in turning, etc., is not included. 










Acres covered each day 

Days of plowing for the year. 
Men employed 
























Horses used 


Labor and board (by day) . . . 
Quantity of fuel used each day' 
Quantity ot fuel used for each 


Cost of fuel for each day . . . 

Cost of fuel for each acre 

Quantity of waterused each day 
Cost of oil, etc., for each day 

" "67!i 

'For California expressed in barrels of crude oil; elsewhere in pounds of coal. 

' For California expressed in gallons; elsewhere in the United States in barrels 
of 31.5 gallons. 

The data for 1907 and 1008 under column 2 are much nearer the figures 
contained in first-hand reports from the Northwest and Canada, as is to be 
expected in view of the time covered by the latter. For these two years the 
averages of data contained in 118 letters show the size of the en^e to be 27.7 
horsepower; number of plows, 9.09; width of furrow, 10.6 feet; miles a day. 
16.75; acres a day, 21.52; number of men. 4.63; number of horses, 3.57; quantity 
of coal a day, 3245 lbs.; quantity of coal for each acre. 160.8 lbs. 

It will be noted that from three to six men are needed in 
operating a steam plowing outfit. A full crew would consist 
of an engineer, fireman, plowman, cook, and two or more 
men with teams to haul coal and water. Wages range from 
$1.75 for ordinary help to $4 or $5 a day for the engineer, though 
many receive more than that. Horses cost about $1.00 a 
day each, and board costs from 50 cents to 75 cents for each 
man. The Bulletin just quoted estimates the cost of steam 
plowing in 1907 and 1908 at 85.3 cents per acre in California, 
$1.14 in the Southwest, and $1.73 in the Northwest, aver- 
aging the entire season's run of both sod breaking and stubble 
plowing, and figuring all overhead charges on the basis of 
about seven years' life of equipmoit. With gas tractors of 
smaller size, under the same conditions, the cost was estimated 
at $1.12 for the Southwest and $1.46 for the Northwest, the 
difiFerences being due largely to the more rapid work accom- 
plished with disk plows and a lower cost per unit of fuel. 



THE fuels for steam tractors which are in common 
use include coal, straw, wood, and crude oil. An- 
thracite coal is seldom used, the ordinaiy grades 
ranging from lignite, which is a very soft, peaty 
product, to the highest grades of bituminous steam coal. The 
cost of coal naturally varies widely in different sections, as 
well as the grade which is commonly used. In some sections 
of Montana and the two Dakotas cheap coal, both lignite and 
a better grade, are to be found underlying large areas. The 
quality is not such as to encourage extensive shipping, conse- 
quently local mines supply coal at from $2.00 to $3.00 per ton. 
Coal which is shipped ia from the Eastern mines costs as high 
as $8.00 or $9.00 per ton at the railroad station, but will usually 
produce as much power as one and one half to two tons of the 
local product. In the Southwestern States of the Great Plains 
area the coal is usually brought from Missouri or Oklahoma 
fields and costs in the neighborhood of $6.00 per ton, plus the 
cost of hauling. In Iowa and Missouri, where a fair grade of 
bituminous coal is obtainable, the price is usually around $4.50 
to $5.00 in carload lots. It is the custom of many steam engine 
operators to have the coal delivered in carload lots and stored 
in a dealer's warehouse, whence it is hauled as needed. Coal 
may be had from $3.50 to $4.00 per ton in carload lots in 
Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa, although little steam-traction plow- 
ing is done in this section. 
Bituminous coals, such as are ordinarily used in plowing- 



contain from 12,000 to 14,500 B.t.u. per pound. The best 
coal contains from 80 to 90 per cent, of carbon and hydrogen. 

Crude oil and its products are nearly pure carbon and hydro- 
gen in varying proportions. Wood and straw contain only 
about 50 per cent, of carbon. A large part of the possible 
oxidation has already taken place in the latter, hence their 
heating value is low. Alcohol, as it will be seen later, comes 
from vegetable materials and has also a lower thermal value 
than coal and oil. Were it possible for all engines to utilize 
all fuels with equal efficiency, the steam engine would have 
a tremendous advantage on account of the cheapness of its 
fuel. If its energy could all be utilized, one pound of coal, 
costing two fifths of a cent and having 14,000 B.t.u., would 
produce about eleven million foot-pounds of work, or ap- 
proximately the useful work of one horse for one day. 

Straw is used oidy where it has no value for feeding or 
bedding purposes, consequently straw-burning engines are 
commonly found only on the Great Plains. If we disregard 
the fertilizing value of the straw, the use of it in engines is a 
source of economy, as the first cost of coal is saved. The labor 
of keeping the engine supplied with straw is practically the same 
as the average for hauling coal from the railway station. The 
use of straw in plowing is not convenient, as a large tender must 
be carried for rounds of any length. For threshing, however, 
it is convenient and cheap. Straw contains about 8000 B.t.u. 
per pound, or a little more than half the heat value of the best 
grades of coal. It requires somewhat more skill in firing than 
does coal, owing to the rapidity with which it generates heat. 

Wood is used to a very limited extent in plowing, owing to 
the scarcity of timber on most of the Great Plains area. Where 
abundant, however, it can be used at the rate of about two 
and one fourth pounds of wood for one pound of coal. Air- 
dried wood will net about 5000 to 6000 B.t.u. per pound. 
Fresh wood contains from 30 to 50 per cent, of moisture, ac- 
cording to species, and seldom dries in the air to less than 20 


per cent. The heat required to evaporate this must be de- 
ducted from the 8000 to 8500 B.t.u. which will be contained 
in a pound of good air-dried wood. A cord of 128 cubic feet of 
ordinary wood contains 60 to 80 cubic feet of soUd wood. 
When thoroughly air dried, hickory or hard maple weighs about 
4500 lbs.; white oak, 3850 lbs.; birch, red oak, or black oak, 
3250 lbs.; poplar, chestnut, or elm, 2350 lbs.; and average 
pine, 2000 lbs. 

Crude oil makes an excellent fuel, being cheap, highly con- 
centrated, and easily handled. The usual cost is from two to 
three cents per gallon, which will usually weigh about seven 
and one half poimds and contain about one and one half times 
as many heat units per pound as the best steam coal. Many 
builders of steam tractors furnish attachments for converting 
coal-burning engines into oil burners. The usual method is 
to mix oil and steam by forcing them through a jet located in 
the fire box, the vapor burning readily and producing an abun- 
dance of heat. Oil is used almost entirely by steam plowing 
tractors on the Pacific coast, but not extensively elsewhere. 


THE third great source of power for direct traction 
plowing is the internal-combustion tractor, which 
differs from the steam tractor in the kind of fuel 
used and the method of transforming the chemical 
energy in that fuel into mechanical energy for useful work. 
We have seen that in the steam engine the heat is applied 
externally to a vessel containing some Uquid medium, ordi- 
narily water. The temperature of the water is thus raised above 
the vaporizing point. The resulting gas is admitted to the 
cylinder under pressure and performs work by its expansion 
and cooling. The internal-combustion engine admits the 
fuel directly to the working cylinder, where it is vaporized. 
It is compressed to a density of four or more atmospheres and 
ignited. The combustion is practically instantaneous; hence 
the pressure rises with the force of an explosion behind the pis- 
ton. The action may be compared to that of a gun, the piston 
taking the place of the bullet, but constantly returning to be 
acted upon again. The gases work directly upon the piston; 
hence there is little chance for loss of heat by radiation, as is 
the case at every step in the steam engine cycle, and much 
greater efficiency is the result. 

The essential parts of the internal-combustion engine con- 
sist of a cylinder and movable piston, with means for vapor- 
izing the fuel and delivering it to the cylinder; for regulating 
the power of the engine; for igniting the charge; for allowing 
the charge to enter and the burned gases to escape; for cleaning 






the cylinder after the explosion; for transforming the movement 
of the piston into rotary motion suitable for driving machines, 
and for lubricating the engine to reduce friction. In other 
words, we must have a cylinder, cylinder head, piston, fuel 
supply, carbureter, governor, ignition system, valves, cooling 
system, wristpin, connecting rod, crankshaft, flywheel, and 
lubricating devices, with a base for the support of all these 

In the early nineties, or shortly after the gasoline engine 
was first successfully used for stationary purposes, a tractor 
equipped with such an engine for power was oflFered for sale. 
This proved unsuitable in many respects, and, since at that 
time there was much competition from steam threshing engines 
and Uttle demand for a plowing tractor, the venture did not 
survive. At least ten years elapsed before the gas tractor 
proved at all successful commercially. The year 1903 really 
marks the beginning of the great development of gas tractors, 
which has been one of the marvels in the history of agriculture. 
By the spring of 1908 the builders of the first successful tractor 
had about 300 machines in the field, and the sales that year 
equalled those of the five years preceding. The following year 
the nimiber in the field was again doubled, and by t^e close 
of the year 1910 over 2000 of these tractors were said to be in 
active service. Another company began to produce a small 
tractor in 1907 and by the close of the decade was selling several 
thousand yearly. Dozens of gas tractor factories sprang up, 
and practically every manufacturer of steam traction engines 
either went out of business or added an internal-combustion 
engine to his line. At present over sixty firms are offering gas 
tractors to the pubhc and the number is being added to almost 
weekly. For plowing purposes there is Uttle question that this 
type of prime motor has taken a permanent lead over the steam 
engine. On that account, and because of the comparative 
newness of the field, the mechanical features of the gas tractor 
will be dealt with in greater detail. 

Left-hand side of motor plant 
Right-hand side of motor plant 


The fundamental principles of the internal-combustion 
engine are the same, no matter what fuel is used, and for con- 
venience we may speak of it as the gas engine. The class may 
first be divided into the two-cycle and the four-cycle types. By 
a cycle we mean a complete series of events in which one work- 
ing stroke occurs. In the two-cycle engine the charge is drawn 
into a separate chamber, usually the crank case, and there 
partially compressed by the outward movement of the piston. 
At the end of its working stroke the piston imcovers a port 
in the cylinder which is connected by a side passage with the 
crank case, and forces a charge into the combustion chamber. 
At the same time it opens a port on the opposite side of the 
cylinder, out of which the exhaust gases rush while the incoming 
charge is filling up the combustion chamber. A projection on the 
end of the piston deflects the new charge toward the head end of 
the cylinder, with the result that the cylinder is more effec- 
tively scavenged of the burned gases, which woidd tend to 
dilute the fresh mixture. As the piston is carried back through 
the force of the flywheel, the charge is compressed in the 
cylinder and ignited at the proper time. Thus a working stroke 
occurs to each revolution of the flywheel, or to each two strokes 
of the piston. 

The two-cycle principle is used largely on marine engines, 
where lightness and compactness are the prime essentials. It 
is used on tractors to a very limited extent. Having twice 
the number of power strokes at a given speed, the two-cycle 
engine will naturally deliver more power than the four-cycle. 
However, owing to the difficulty in combining the suction, 
power and exhaust strokes in one, the power developed is only 
from one third to three fourths more than would be obtained 
from a four-cycle engine of the same dimensions and speed. 
This type is also less economical of fuel. 

In the fotir-cycle engine, which is practically universal on 
tractors, the piston moves outward on what is known as the 
suction stroke, during which a charge is drawn into the cylinder. 


On its return trip it compresses the charge into a small clearance 
space at the head of the cylinder. At a point usually previous 
to the end of the compression stroke, the charge is ignited. By 
the time the piston starts outward on the third, or power, 
stroke, the full force of the explosion is exerted against the 
piston head. As the flywheel again carries the piston back- 
ward, the exhaust valve opens and the burned gases are expelled 
from the cylinder, thus completing the cycle. There is but 
one power stroke to four strokes of the piston; hence the name. 
It will be seen that on the suction stroke the exhaust valve is 
closed and the inlet valve open. On the exhaust stroke the 
inlet valve is closed and the exhaust open. One automobile 
manufacturer has aptly compared the four-stroke cycle to the 
operations involved in firing an old muzzle-loading rifle. First, 
the charge is admitted, and next it is rammed home. The 
third step is the firing and the fourth consists of swabbing out 
the gun barrel. 


The gas tractor consists essentially of power plant and traction 
mechanism. The former consists of the same essential parts 
as a stationary gas engine, while the latter racludes the support- 
ing frame, wheels, shafting and gearing for transmitting power 
to the traction wheels. At the present time there are probably 
one himdred distinct types and sizes of gas tractor. Variations 
in design are so great that a strict classification would be 
extremely complicated, and for general purposes they are 
roughly divided into low, medium, and high speed types, with 
a further class for those of special nature. For tractors of 
standard types the above classes correspond quite closely to 
the single, double, and foiu* cylinder classes, and to a less extent 
represent the power developed, the single-cylinder engines 
as a class being the smallest and the four-cylinder the largest. 

The engines on single-cylinder tractors usually run at from 
220 to 300 revolutions of the crankshaft per minute. The two- 


Twin cylinders Piston and connecting rod 

Top view of twin cylinder-engine 
showing method of lubrication 

Governor Crankshaft 


cylinder engines range from about 300 to 400 r.p.m., the three- 
cylinder a trifle higher, and the four-cylinder from 450 to 600 
r.p.m., though these limits are by no means absolute. The 
speed is based largely upon the piston travel, which ranges 
from about 600 to 750 feet per minute. The multiple-cylinder 
engines are usually smaller in diameter and stroke; hence 
require a higher speed to accomplish the desired piston travel. 
The cylinder, even on a low or medium speed tractor, is 
seldom over twelve inches in diameter, owing to the difficulty of 
cooling larger sizes through the cylinder wall. The stroke of 
the piston is usually longer in proportion to the diameter in 
the lower speed engines, the ratio ranging from an average of 
about 1.65 for the low speed single-cylinder tractors to 1.5 
for the medium speed, and 1.15 for the four-cylinder high-speed 


Excellent regulation is especially necessary on a gas engine, 
where perfect combustion, clean cylinders, and economy of 
fuel depend upon a good mixture at all times. Only two sys- 
tems of governing are in conmion use on tractors. In one of 
these a fuel charge is taken for each cycle until the speed of the 
engine runs above a certain limit. Thereupon the explosions 
are automatically cut out until the speed drops below normal. 
This sequence of power cycles and idle cycles gives rise to the 
name of "hit-and-miss" governing. This system is economical 
of fuel, especially on small engines, but naturally is not adapted 
for work requiring close regulation. It is better adapted to 
plowing than to threshing, sawing, and other stationary work, 
where a constant speed must be kept in spite of great variation 
in the load. An ordinary fly-ball governor, driven in some 
way by the flywheel or crankshaft, is commonly used. The 
governor weights act through suitable push rods, which in turn 
may lock the fuel valve so as to choke off the supply or else 
will prevent a spark while retaining an unexploded charge in 
the cylinder. 



The other method of governing is that of taking and ex- 
ploding a charge at each cycle, the amount taken in varying 
with the requirements of the load as in the throttle-governed 
steam engine. This method is used on practically all of the 
high-speed engines and some of the low and medium speed 
types. It is capable of very close regidation and is more 
sensitive than the hit-and-miss to the requirements of irregular 
loads. Many tractors are equipped with devices for changing 
the speed of the engine while in motion by controlling the 


The object of the carbureter is to mix fuel and air in the 
proper proportions to form an explosive mixture. If the gover- 

Principle of the carbureter 


Four cylinder vertical motor 

A self-contained motor plow 

Bevel gear and chain driven tractor with three cylinder motor 


nor is the heart of the engine, then the carbureter may be said 
to be the lungs, which bring the life-blood and oxygen into the 
necessary contact. Of the three general classes of carbureter, 
only one is used to any extent upon tractors. This is the spray 
type, which divides the fuel into a fine mist rather than a true 
gas. The carbureter must deliver the fuel to the cylinder in 
proper proportions, at any speed or load, regardless of varia- 
tions in the temperature of fuel and air, the difference in 
density In the air at different times and altitudes, and the 
wide extremes in the volatility of fuels secured from different 
sources. In order to meet all the varying requirements, many 
carbureters are so complicated and delicate that they are 
not suitable for the rough work which a tractor is called upon 
to do. 

In brief, the spray carbureter delivers the fuel through a small 
opening or needle valve, situated in a passage through which 
air rushes, in obedience to the difference in pressure between 
the outside air and the contents of the cylinder on the suction 
stroke. The fuel is atomized by the air current and turned 
into gas by the heat of the cylinder. Gasoline is sufficiently 
volatile to give an explosive mixture in a cold cylinder. 
Kerosene requires more heat for its evaporation; hence it is 
usually necessary to start on gasoline or alcohol and switch to 
kerosene after a half minute's run. Sometimes two car- 
bureters are provided for starting, but a simpler way is to add 
a gasoline compartment to the kerosene carbureter. 

The majority of carbureters are designed to overcome the 
fluctuation in outside conditions by keeping the air and fuel at 
a constant temperatiu-e, through heat from the water jacket 
or exhaust pipe. All are provided with a wide range of adjust- 
ment, and some meet the many different conditions auto- 
matically. Most carbureters provide for a constant quality 
of mixture — i. e., a fixed proportion of fuel and air. However, 
on a throttling governed engine, running at high speed and tak- 
ing full charges, the compression is considerably increased 


To prevent preignition, and at the same time make the fuel 
do the increased work of which it is capable at the higher 
compression, the tendency is now to adopt a form of car- 
bureter which will automatically vary the quality as well as 
the quantity of the mixture under different loads. This type 
of carbureter, intimately connected with a positively driven 
governor, has given excellent regulation, approached only by 
first-class steam engines in large stationary plants. The nu- 
merous adjustments are being dispensed with and the simple 
expedient of controlling the vacuum in the carbureter has been 
adopted. This is accomplished by varying the relative pro- 
portions of the passages from the atmosphere to the carbureter, 
thence to the cylinder. Substantial sliding plates directly 
connected with the governor displace many of the delicate 
parts which formerly handicapped the tractor in rough work. 
The uniform conditions in the cylinder, which are thus ob- 
tained, allow the use of gasoline, kerosene, or even heavier 
oils under a wide range of conditions. 

It has been stated by eminent authority that some heating 
apparatus is necessary in order to vaporize kerosene success- 
fully. However, at the present time, thousands of tractors are 
working in the field on gasoline, kerosene, or distillate without 
changing the carbureter and without requiring heat for the 
action of the latter. Both "hit-and-miss" and throttling 
governors are employed on kerosene engines, in spite of other 
high authority to the effect that a change must be taken at 
every cycle to prevent cooling and loss of efficiency. 


In some tractors the fuel is delivered to the carbureter by 
gravity, the carbureter being required to control the supply 
to the cylinder against the pressure of the liquid in the tank. 
This method does away with fuel pimips and additional piping, 
but is not positive in its action, as the pressure varies with the 


Single-cylinder tractor 

Motor plow 

Twin cylinder tractor with'open 


Farm truck 

Tractor with opposed cylinder 
High speed tractor with closed 


Tractor with self-steering device 



height of the oil in the tank. Plunger, centrifugal, and ro- 
tary gear pumps are used successfully to deUver fuel. Owing 
to the rapid deterioration of leather when exposed to gasoline, 
the pumps are usually without leather valves. 


Having secured a proper proportion of fuel and air in the 
cylinder, the next problem is to ignite it at such a point during 
the compression stroke as to allow the charge to be fully ignited 
as soon as the piston starts upon its third, or working, stroke. 
This point, in a high-speed engine, or one using a slow-burning 
mixture, may be as much as one eighth of a revolution of the 
flywheel before the end of the compression stroke; or, as more 
often stated, 45 degrees before dead centre. Kerosene 
engines and those using a "lean" mixture (one with a low 
proportion of gasoline to air) are ignited early. 

Of the many types of ignition only two, both electric, are 
used to any extent on tractors. These are the jump spark 
and the make-and-break systems. In the former a high tension 
current is employed. A spark coU and con- 
denser are used to increase the tension and a 
vibrator rapidly opens and closes the circuit, 
causing the electric current to leap across the 
gap between the ignited points, thus forming a 
spark which explodes the mixture. This system 
is free from the diflBculty of using delicate mov- 
ing parts on an engine which is exposed to very 
severe conditions. On the other hand it involves 
more complicated wiring and greater danger of 
short circuit, besides being less easily compre- 
hended by the average fanner. 

The make-and-break system commonly uses — **" on p ug 
a low tension current which passes through a pair of 
electrodes fitted to a plug inserted in the cylinder. One 


of these is fixed and the other movable. At the proper 
point in the cycle the points of these electrodes are sepa- 
rated by a violent blow and the current leaps across in an 
arc hot enough to fire the charge. 

The current is commonly produced by either a wet or dry 
battery, a magneto, or a small dynamo, which is sometimes 
termed an auto-sparker. On small stationary engines batteries 
are often used alone, but as these deteriorate rapidly, they are 
used on larger engines simply for starting, current afterward 
being supplied by mechanical means. The dynamo is less 
frequently used than the magneto. Both are usually gear- 
driven, as it is of the utmost importance that they be kept 
in exact time with the events in the cycle. 


In single-cylinder engines it is customary to place the cylinder 
horizontal. Double-cylinder engines have cylinders arranged 
in pairs and set either vertically or horizontally. Some are 
set on a slight incline from the horizontal. In what is known 
as the opposed type, the cylinders are placed horizontally on 
opposite sides of the crankshaft. All of the three cylinder 
tractors now on the market empty the cylinders vertically. In 
some cases they are set lengthwise and in other cases crosswise 
of the frame. The following arrangements are found in four- 
cylinder engines: 

(1) Cylinders vertical with crankshaft lengthwise of the 

(2) Cylinders vertical and set crosswise. 

(3) Cylinders horizontal with crankshaft crosswise to the 

(4) Cylinders horizontal with one pair opposed to the other, 
the crankshaft being crosswise to the frame. The first class is 
by far the more numerous. 

The cylinder is commonly made of cast iron and provided 


with a water jacket through which a liquid cooling medium 
circulates. The cylinder may be provided with a removable 
head or the head and cylinder may be cast in one piece. The 
removable head permits easy inspection of the interior of the 
cylinder, while the cast-on head obviates diflSculty from im- 
perfect joints between the cylinder and the head. Owing to 
the inaccessibility of the one-piece cylinder and the higher 
manufacturing cost, the great majority of tractor cylinders 
are provided with the removable heads. One tractor has a 
separate liner for the cylinder so that in case it becomes badly 
worn or warped it may be removed without substituting an 
entire new cylinder. Cylinders are usually cast separately 
and bolted to the base or crankcase, though in four-cylinder 
engines they are frequently cast in pairs. 


The valves of gas tractors are of the poppet, or mushroom, 
type. They may be set in the cylinder head, in the cylinder 
walls, or in a vertical engine, in a chamber projecting to one 
side of the cylinder. They are set to act vertically, wherever 
other features of design will permit, in order to avoid unequal 
wear on the valve stem guide, followed by imperfect seating 
of the valve. By having the valves in the cylinder head they 
may be removed with the head for examination. Where the 
valves are placed opposite each other on the sides of the cylin- 
der they are usually provided with removable seats or cages, 
so that a valve may be examined without taking off the cylin- 
der head. The valve cage contains a seat for the valve and a 
guide for the valve stem, which, especially in case of the 
exhaust valve, is usually surrounded by a water jacket. 
The intense heat of the exhaust is otherwise apt to cause the 
valve stem to warp and stick in its guide. The inlet valve is 
also frequently jacketed to prevent too early expansion of the 
incoming charge and consequent decrease in the heating value 


of a cylinder full of gas. The inlet valve is frequently auto- 
matic — i. e., opened by the suction of the piston — but in the 
majority of higher priced tractors both inlet and exhaust valves 
are mechanically operated. The controlling mechanism usually 
consists of a rocker arm and push rod, driven by an eccentric 
or cam. The camshaft is driven by gears from the crankshaft, 
but at a lower speed than the latter. In case of valves set in 
an offset chamber, the rocker arms are dispensed with and the 
push rods act directly upon the valves. 

Some engines are provided with an auxiliaiy or relief exhaust. 
This consists simply of a port, which, at the will of the operator, 
is uncovered at the end of the outward stroke of the piston, 
thus allowing part of the products of combustion to pass out 
immediately into the exhaust pipes. The hottest gases are 
thus removed from the vicinity of the exhaust valve, and 
danger of corroding and sticking the valve stem is thus les- 
sened. The use of this feature is advisable at heavy, con- 
tinuous loads, and in very hot weather. 


The piston is of the trunk type commonly used on single- 
acting engines. The explosion acts on one end of the piston, 
the other being open to receive the connecting rod. The 
piston is of cast iron turned to size. In order to allow free 
movement it is made slightly smaller than the bore of the 
cylinder, usually one thousandth of an inch less for each inch 
in diameter of the latter. In order to retain the compression 
the piston is encircled by expanding rings set in grooves 
machined out of the piston. There are usually three or four 
rings at the head of the piston and sometimes one ring near 
the open end. This latter ring is sometimes used for the 
purpose of distributing the lubricating oil and sometimes its 
main purpose is to assist in preventing the loss of compression. 
In other cases it is to prevent the wearing of the cylinder wall 


to form a shoulder at the end of the piston stroke. In the latter 
case both this ring and the one at the other end of the piston 
are allowed to travel half their width beyond a eounterbore, 
or enlargement of the cylinder diameter. In the absence of 
some such provision the end of the piston wears the cylinder 
until a shoulder is formed, and if at any time the length of the 
connecting rod is even slightly increased, knocking in the cyl- 
inder will result. Where splash lubrication is used, this ring 
wipes the excess oil back into the crankcase. The cylinder 
rings are of cast iron and machined to size. After being 
ground to a size larger than the cylinder, a segment is cut out. 
The ring is then compressed into place so that its tension causes 
it to fit snugly against the cylinder wall. 


About midway of the piston there are interior enlargements 
or bosses for supporting the wristpin, to which the connecting 
rod is attached. The wristpin itself is usually hollow and 
provided with holes for lubricating its bearing with the oil col- 
lected from the cylinder wall. The connecting rod, which 
transmits the power from the piston to the crankshaft, is usually 
of I-section, drop-forged steel, as on the best locomotive and 
marine steam engines. There are numerous devices for at- 
taching the connecting rod to the crankpin, it being frequently 
necessary to withdraw the piston and connecting rod to examine 
the former. The same devices serve to provide adjustment 
for wear. The most common and probably the most satis- 
factory method is a removable cap attached to the connect- 
ing rod by bolts on either side of the crankpin. Both ends of 
the connecting rod are commonly lined with an anti-friction 
material, most of which goes under the name of Babbitt-metal. 


The crankshaft must be proportioned to meet the strain 
which is placed upon it, and must be well supported by wide 









TWin Cylinder 






Hue f (^finder 

* 3 

-^'— ilrir-"- 


Types of crankshaft 


bearings. The variation in number and arrangement of 
cylinders requires material difiFerences in the crankshaft. The 
arrangement of the crankpins with respect to one another 
has an important influence upon the sequence of the strokes 
of the engine, as shown by the accompanying diagrams. It 
will be noted that the power strokes of the four-cylinder 
engine are the most evenly balanced, and those of the three- 
cylinder next. In the two-cylinder engines the explosion 
balance may be obtained by the opposed type, or else the twin- 
cylinder type in which the pistons move together, both crank- 
pins being on one side of the crankshaft. The opposed engine 
with pistons working opposite each other gives also a rotative 
balance, which in the twin-cylinder engine can be had only by 
adding coimter weights to the crankshaft or flywheel. In 
the twin-cylinder engines which have the cranks on opposite 
sides of the centre of the shaft, the pistons travel opposite 
each other, thus obtaining rotative balance at the expense of 
explosion balance. In the single-cylinder engine there can be 
no explosion balance, and rotative balance is secured by counter 
weights, which should be as close to the centre of the crank 
shaft as possible in order to balance properly at all speeds. 
The four-cylinder engine, which gives the most continuous 
succession of power strokes, is, of course, much more compli- 
cated than one with fewer cylinders. In the opposed engine 
the necessity of operating the valves at such a distance from 
each other is one disadvantage, and the distance of the intake 
valves from the carbureter is another, which makes for higher 
fuel consumption. The opposed engine is used on only a 
few tractors. 


The flywheel of the gas eng^e is for the purpose of storing 
up part of the power developed by one stroke of the piston in 
order to insure the other three events of the cycle. In many 
tractors a single flywheel is used, the belt pulley being mounted 


upon the opposite end of the shaft. In a few cases the two 
flywheels are used, the pulley being attached to one of these. 
The i>ermissible rim speed of a cast-iron flywheel is between 
5000 and 6000 feet per minute, hence small flywheels are the 
practice on high speed engines. With the power strokes 
coming closer together as in a four-cylinder, high speed engine, 
a large flywheel is not so essential. The weight of the flywheel 
should be as near as possible in order to give the greatest 
possible momentum. As the flywheel is heavy, sometimes 
weighing 1300 poimds, it is necessary that it be put on the 
shaft in such a way as to remain there indefinitely, and yet 
be easily removable. For this reason, and for ease in casting, 
it is now customary to split the hub of the flywheel. It is 
locked by means of a key seated in both the shaft and hub, 
after which it is tightened on by two bolts through the hub 
on either side of the shaft. 


In stationary engines it is customary to provide a heavy 
base, either cast or bolted to the crankcase. In tractors this 
base is discarded, and the frame takes its place. The crank- 
case, however, is retained to provide a foimdation for the 
crankshaft, camshaft, and cylinders. The protection of the 
moving parts inside the crankcase requires not only the ex- 
clusion of dust but that some form of lubrication be provided. 
The splash lubrication conmionly used necessitates a tight 
crankcase, which in turn is frequently diflicult of access. To 
combine the two extremes of accessibility and protection is 
a difficult problem for the designer, yet in some cases it is 
possible to expose the entire internal mechanism of the tractor 
by the removal of a tight-fitting cover. 


For the lubrication of the gas engine any one or all of three 
systems may be used — namely, gravity, force-feed, or splash. 


In the gravity system small sight-feed oil cups are placed at 
convenient points, and the amoimt of oil delivered is governed 
by the size of the opening from the cups. On a small horizontal 
engine this method is quite satisfactory, more so than on up- 
right engines unless oil cups are placed on either side of the 
vertical cylinder. Owing to the severe conditions which the 
tractor must meet, a more positive system is necessitated. 
The force-feed system consists of a mechanically operated 
lubricator with a number of separate pumps capable of deUver- 
ing oil against considerable pressure. This is commonly used 
to supply oil to the cylinder and to the camshaft and crank- 
shaft bearings. The drip from these sources is usually col- 
lected in the crankcase where a considerable quantity is allowed 
to accumulate. At a certain level this oil will be dipped by 
the rapidly revolving crankshaft, and a spray will be sent into 
the cylinder and every part of the crankcase. This is called 
the splash system, and on some engines it is depended en- 
tirely upon for lubricating the cylinder. However, the heat 
will evaporate some of the lighter parts of the oil and in the 
course of time it becomes heavy and dirty. The splash, there- 
fore, is used most successfully in connection with a force-feed 
lubricator, which is constantly bringing fresh oil, while an over- 
flow drains off a certain quantity from the crankcase to the 
gears below. 

The lubrication of bearings on gas tractors presents no new 
problems, but the lubrication of the cylinder is vastly different 
from that of the steam cylinder. In the latter the effort is 
made to procure an oil which will emulsify and cling as a thin 
film to the cylinder wall, resisting the high temperature for 
a considerable length of time. In the gas engine the oil must 
do its work in the face of so high a temperature as to make it 
impossible for the oil not to be broken up. As a result, part of 
any oil will be burned, and the best gas engine oil is one that, 
after performing its duty, will mix with the charge and be 
burned completely. 


In both the steam and the gas engine cylinder, there is dan- 
ger of feeding too much oil and creating a heavy deposit. This 
will act as a collector of the scale-forming material which comes 
over in the priming of the steam boiler, and the grit which 
comes through the air intake pipe on the gas engine. The 
paste thus formed is ideally adapted to cutting and scoring 
the cylinder, just as emery paste will remain longer between 
two metal surfaces than dry emery powder. As one of the 
leading lubrication experts, Mr. F. M. Williamson, put it: 
"You see the danger of assuming that if a little oil is good, 
more is better." A number of special gas engine oils of 
excellent quality are put out by the oil companies, and in 
justice to the tractor a good brand should be used, and used 


The exhaust will carry from 35 to 40 per cent, of the total 
heat generated in the gas engine. Since only from four to 
five per cent, will be consumed in friction of the piston and 
bearings, and, as a rule, not more than 20 to 25 per cent, will 
be delivered as useful work, it follows that the cooling system 
must remove at least one third of the heat. The cylinder is 
cooled in order to make it possible for the operator to work in 
comfort; to prevent damage to the cylinder and valves, since 
cast iron melts at a lower temperature than is frequently 
realized at the moment of explosion; to prevent burning the 
lubricating oil before it completes its work; to avoid igniting 
the incoming charge by the heat of the cylinder walls; and in 
order to allow a higher compression pressure, which in turn 
gives a greater amount of power for a given size of cylinder 
and a given quantity of fuel. 

A number of systems which are feasible in stationary work 
are unsuitable for tractors. In the case of the self-contaiued 
portable motor, the quantity of cooling medium which can be 
transported is necessarily limited and the imusually rough, 


dirty nature of the work prohibits the use of open water tanks. 
Owing to the size of the motors employed, the air-cooled traction 
engine is practically out of the question, and the cooUng 
medium is usually either water or oil. The water should be 
as pure as possible, owing to the fact that mineral salts in 
solution may be precipitated by heat at temperatures even 
below the boiling point. The scale thus formed tends to im- 
pede the circulation, and if deposited on the cylinder wall of 
the water jacket will decrease its conducting capacity and 
tend to produce overheating in the cylinder. The oil used 
for cooling is of rather heavy mixture with a high fire test. Its 
boiling point is considerably higher than that of water, hsnce 
it does not evaporate and require frequent replacement. It is 
not so rapid a conductor of heat, yet on the other hand it has 
the advantage of not freezing or depositing scale. One man- 
ufacturer recommends a mixture of kerosene and water to 
prevent corrosion and scale. Others suggest the use in severe 
weather of some anti-freezing compound, such as a solution 
of calcium chloride (specific gravity 1.2) or of equal parts of 
glycerine and water, or a mixture of alcohol and water. 

In engines of ordinary design the cooling medium should 
not be heated above the boiling point, nor cooled so low as 
to absorb heat from the gases before they have had time to 
act. In practice the temperature ranges from 160 to 180 
degrees F., varying considerably with the movement of the 
tractor with or against the wind. 

The medium is commonly circulated by either a centrifugal 
or a plunger pump, though, in rare instances, it circulates en- 
tirely by the difiFerence in specific gravity between the liquid 
in the tank and the hotter liquid in the cylinder jacket. One 
simple, popidar and effective system of removing surplus heat 
from the water, which is used in this case, is that of an open 
evaporating radiator. The water is sprayed over a screen, 
along which it passes back to the tank, the partial evaporation 
absorbing enough heat to cool the remainder rapidly. One 


great objection to this system is the large quantity of water 
used and the necessity for frequent re-filling of the tank. 
Another arises from the fact that in alkali districts the rapid 
evaporation leaves behind a solution of increasing density 
from which scale-forming material will be deposited. Unless 
the screen is protected, dust from the atmosphere will add 
further difficulties. In some enclosed coolers the spray of 
water, or oil, is met by a current of air, generated by a fan. 
The liquid being finely divided, a large area is exposed to the 
air, hence cooling occurs quickly. 

In the closed type of radiator the air is separated from the 
liquid medium by metal walls. On some small tractors are 
found tubular or honeycomb radiators in connection with 
fans, similar to the system used on most automobiles. Or- 
dinarily, however, the radiating sections are not so delicate, 
and a larger quantity of liquid is necessary in order to expose 
sufficient area to the draft. In several cases the fan is dis- 
pensed with, and the process simplified. The cooling of the 
exhaust produces a partial vacuum and thus induces a strong 
draft upward, which cools the hquid satisfactorily. In one 
case the cooling arrangement is simply a huge tank, the water 
being circidated by a pump, and the cooling being efifected by 
the evaporation of the water from the surface. 

A very efifective method of cooling which may be used in 
connection with some of the foregoing is that of using water 
vapor with the mixture of the fuel and air to cool the cylinder. 
In one tractor the steam which is formed in the radiator is 
piped to the carbureter and inhaled with the fuel. In other 
cases water is taken with the fuel through the carbureter and 
vaporized in the cylinder. The amount of water is, of course, 
slight, increasing automatically with the increase of heat 
generated at the higher loads, or being cut out entirely at the 
will of the operator. The latent heat of water is so high that 
the evaporation of a very small quantity will prevent preignition 
and the steam will have in addition a cleansing effect upon 


the cylinder. By this method the water cools the hottest 
projecting points first, the exact reverse being true when 
cooling is done from the outside. This means is particularly 
advantageous with engines using the heavier fuels, as it allows 
the use of higher compression, and thus materially increases 
the power of the oil engine. It also produces a smoother 
and quieter running engine, by retarding the spread of the 
flame cap throughout the mixture. Instead of a sharp initial 
blow, followed by a rapid decline in pressure as the gases ex- 
pand and the cooling medium takes effect, the explosion pressure 
is not only less violent but the piston receives a sustained 
push after the manner of a steam engine. The water is usually 
injected only at half load or above. 


No part of the traction mechanism or foundation can be 
neglected without impairing the efficiency of the tractor. The 
frame must be strong enough and large enough to support 
the weight of the engine, radiator, and operator's platform, 
and rigid enough to furnish a stable bed for the engine. The 
work is necessarily rough, and if in addition there is constant 
vibration of the tractor frame, a smooth-running, durable 
motor cannot be expected. For this reason the frames are 
usually of heavy, continuous, steel I-beams or channels, ex- 
tending from front to rear. These are usually tied together 
crosswise with other members of ample dimension. Since 
the frame, if heavy enough, will never need replacing, many 
builders are riveting it throughout into one solid block. 
The frame should support the brackets for the impor- 
tant shafts, including the rear axle. In order to provide 
for all this without excessive weight in castings a sub- 
frame, also of steel, is added often to the main frame. In 
some cases the two are combined in one trussed frame of 
bridge construction. 



In transmitting power from the crankshaft to the drive- 
wheel, we find ahnost our widest variation among tractors, 
and the comparative eflSciency of the various types of trans- 
mission has never been even partially determined by accurate 
competitive tests. This is unfortimate, for tractive efficienQr 
is one of the prime essentials of a plowing tractor. It is by 
no means the only essential, for great tractive efficiency can 
be obtained by any designer who is willing to sacrifice other 
features of «qual importance. All other things being equal, 
however, it is obvious that the most desirable tractor is one 
which will consume the least power in moving its own weight 
and overcoming the friction of its transmission. The crank- 
shaft makes many more revolutions than could be allowed for 
the drive-wheel, consequently the speed of rotation must be 
reduced and the power at the same time delivered to the 
drive-wheel at some Uttle distance from the engine. The 
transmission systems may be divided into friction, chain and 
gear drive, and the latter again into systems employing all 
spur gear, or part bevel and part spur gear. Combinations of 
all systems are foimd. The size and strength of the various 
parts of the transmission must gradually increase as their speed 
is reduced, owing to the greater strain upon each link or tooth. 


It is evident that there must be a friction device which will 
allow the load to be applied gradually. Otherwise, especially 
in plowing, the initial effort of starting the load would require 
much greater power and strength than ordinary requirements 
would justify. The friction clutches which are used represent 
practically every type found on automobiles and steam engines. 
Probably the most common is the internal expanding clutch, 
commonly found on steam tractors. This is equipped with 
two or more friction shoes, which when thrown in are locked. 


thus avoiding any tension upon the clutch lever. The external 
type, gripping the outside circumference of a wheel, is also 
used, as well as planes gripping both sides of a revolving disk. 
In place of an internal shoe, an expanding rimg is employed 
by some, also a cone, which is forced into a similariy shaped 
ring. Several disks tightly pressed together, as in the multiple 
disk clutch of an automobile, are also employed. 


Without notable exception, all tractors are provided with a 
band-wheel, or belt-pulley for transmitting power in stationary 
work. This is most often placed upon one end of the crank- 
shaft, where it acts as a second flywheel, but in a number of 
high-speed engines it is placed upon a countershaft which re- 
volves at a lower speed. As in steam engines, the band-wheel 
is frequently made part of the transmission system, a single 
clutch driving the band-wheel, which may drive either the belt 
or traction gearing. Suitable provision is made to throw the 
traction parts out of gear when work is to be done by the belt. 


Where the crankshaft lies crosswise of the frame, the power 
is usually taken directly to the drive-wheels by a train of spur 
gears — i. e., cylinders with parallel teeth cut or cast on the 
circumference. Chains or friction wheels may replace part 
of these gears. A large gear on the countershaft receives power 
from the crankshaft and transmits it through a smaller gear on 
the same shaft to the master gear, which drives the traction 
wheel. When cylinders are moimted lengthwise of the frame, 
it is necessary to change the direction of rotation to one which 
will drive the tractor forward. This is accomplished by means 
of bevel gears in addition to the ordinary set. 

The gears may be either of steel or semi-steel, the latter 
being a mixture of steel and cast iron. The crankshaft pinion 
and the gear it engages are usually of cast steel with machine- 


cut teeth. The shafting must be made of the highest quality 
of steel and carefully machined to size. If a sliding gear 
transmission is used it is the practice of the leading de- 
signers to cut from two to four keys out of the solid steel shaft 
for the gears to sHde upon. This is an extremely expensive 
construction, but, since the keys are a part of the shaft itself, 
it overcomes stripping or damage to gears from loose keys. 
The sliding gear and those which it engages, usually have 
the teeth beveled on the side so as to slide into mesh more easily. 


The chain drive has the advantage of flexibility and may 
be combined to good advantage with the spring-mounted frame. 
A well-designed chain and sprocket form an eflicient trans- 
mission, but the number of joints renders it subject to greater 
wear than gears, and only a few tractors employ this method. 
A pinion and master gear are sometimes used in place of the 
final chain for driving the wheel or axle. In one three-cylinder 
tractor both bevel and spur gears are used in connection with 
a chain drive from countershaft to master sprocket. 


Few friction-drive constructions have been attempted, and 
few of these survive, except on tractors designed for lighter 
work than plowing. In one of the most successful, fibre-covered 
disks take the power from the inside rims of both flywheels 
for the forward speed and from the hub for the reverse. This 
construction is simple and easily managed, and it eliminates 
the use of a clutch, but it is doubtful if the disks can be made 
durable enough for heavy plowing service. The experience 
of automobile manufacturers has been that the best friction 
material is too short-lived, even for such light work. 


Easy manoeuvring requires some provision for reversing the 
direction of movement. In the steam engine this is accomplished 


simply by reversing the engine itself. The gas engine, 
with very few exceptions, is made to run only in one direction, 
hence the reversing must be done by other means. The 
reversing mechanism which may be used is limited to some 
extent by the arrangement of the cyUnder. 

On tractors which have the crankshaft crosswise to the frame, 
reversing may be accomplished by the use of a sliding gear 
and a separate idler shaft carrying two pinions. When the 
sliding gear is in mesh with the differential gear the tractor 
moves forward. When it engages the larger of the two pinions 
on the idler shaft, the other of which constantly engages the 
differential, the tractor is reversed. Some tractors are equipped 
with two or more forward speeds, and one on the reverse. 
One speed-changing system involves a combination of gears 
and sliding clutches. This is known as the selective type of 
transmission, since any speed or the reverse may be selected 
without the use of a separate idler shaft. Many tractors are 
provided, however, with two large gears on the coimtershaft, 
three on an idler shaft, and two on the sliding-gear shaft. This 
gives two forward speeds and the reverse. Separate trains 
of gears on opposite sides of the tractor are used in certain 
cases to obtain the forward and reverse motions, clutches being 
provided for gripping the two sets independently. In some 
small tractors the friction pulley is retained for the reverse 
motion. An eccentric shaft brings the pulley into contact with 
a similar pulley on the crankshaft, a toothed gear attached 
to the driven pulley driving the large gear on the countershaft. 

The planetary reverse resembles somewhat a spur gear 
differential. A "sun" gear, moving with the crankshaft, is in 
mesh with small pinions, and these in turn with an internal 
gear which is part of the belt pulley. The pinions are held 
on a spider connected to a large disk by a long hub which is 
loose on the crankshaft. The reversing process consists in 
holding the disk stationary by a pair of clutch-blocks. This 
holds the axles of the small pinions stationary, and since the 


sun gear is in rotation forward, the internal gear is driven back- 
ward through these pinions. For the forward motion the 
entire system moves as a unit. In this system a single lever 
controls the entire mechanism for forward and reverse travel. 
The pinion which drives the traction gears fits loosely on the 
long hub of the reversing disk, and is attached to the belt 
pulley by a key. This key moves radially on the back of the 
pulley and enters a slot in a flange cast on the "sun" gear. This 
pin is operated by a small lever extending through to the outer 
face of the pulley, so that the pulley can be disengaged from 
the spur flange pinion at the will of the operator and used for 
belt driving. 


The differential may be moimted on either the coimter- 
shaft or the real axle. In the former case, which is the rule 
on the most powerful tractors, power is applied to either wheel 
by means of a master gear, which is braced to the rim. The 
spokes then serve only to support the weight of the tractor. 
The axle often remains stationary, or "dead," both wheels 
turning upon it. In gas tractors the axle is usually continuous, 
though short, or stub, axles are occasionally employed. When the 
differential is located on the real axle, power is apphed through 
the axle, hub, and spokes, which adds a twisting strain to the 
load upon the latter. The wheels are necessarily independent, 
hence a sleeve revolving upon the axle is used to drive the 
wheel which is loose on the axle. In many cases the dif- 
ferential may be locked, so that if one wheel gets into soft 
ground the other may propel the tractor out of the diflSculty. 


Control of the tractor on sharp inclines and in other emer- 
gencies requires the installation of a powerful, quick-acting 
brake. Where a band- wheel clutch is used in the transmission, 
a simple form of brake is a shoe on the face of the band-wheel. 


This stops the traction gearing when the clutch is thrown oflF, 
the two actions being performed in concert. A band-brake, 
operating on a drum on the differential shaft or the rear axle, 
is another successful device. 


The high and fairly narrow wheel, 18 to 30 inches wide and 
70 to 96 inches in diameter, and of sufficient strength to en- 
dure ordinary service, is apparently the most popular for gas 
tractors, judging from recent design. Extension rims of 10 
or 12 inches are provided in most cases for use in soft ground. 
The wheels are usually of the built-up construction. This 
consists of a steel tire plate to which the cleats are attached; 
round or flat steel spokes; and a cast-iron hub into which the 
spokes are either riveted, cast or screwed. The spokes are most 
often arranged radially, are occasionally on a tangent, and even 
rarely are continuous, extending star-fashion, clear across the 
wheel on opposite sides of the hub. The spokes may be stag- 
gered — i. e., from the outside of the spokes are frequently 
upset to "T" shape so that two rivets may pass through the 
head of the spoke and the tire. Flat spokes are sometimes 
bent to fit the tire and then riveted, this being a weaker con- 
struction. In some cases the end of the spoke is flattened out 
like a paddle, and this riveted to the vertical flange of an angle 
or channel iron which has been put on to reinforce the tire. 
The round spokes sometimes extend through the tire from the 
outside and are screwed into the hub. This holds the tire to, 
instead of away from the hub, making what is known as a 
tension spoke in contrast to the compression spoke usually 

The best type of grouter is a very unsettled problem. The 
most common form is a V-section made of cast or malleable 
iron. These may be attached parallel with the axle, or at an 
angle in order to faciliate self-cleaning. Grouters set at an 


angle are usually placed so that the rear end of one comes 
opposite the front of another to make the circumference more 
continuous and reduce jolting. Some firms use pressed steel 
plates which, when attached, form a continuous succession of 
corrugations clear around the wheel. This is claimed to pass 
over soft ground without tearing up the surface and still prove 
efficient ia gripping hard roads and wild sod. One firm has 
a peculiar crow's-foot grouter, while several use sharp spikes, 
either conical or pyramidal in shape. The English tractors 
sold in this country and Canada are not ordinarily provided 
with such sharp cleats, using instead flat strips of steel put on 
at an angle with narrow spaces between. They prove efficient 
on good roads rather than in field work, and separate mud lugs 
are provided for emergencies. 


The majority of tractors have two steering wheels in front, 
though there is a respectable number of three- wheeled types. 
The three-wheeled tractor will turn in a somewhat shorter 
radius, but the four-wheeler with the weight carried on a ball 
and socket joint has practically a three-point support and is 
less affected by minor irregularities in the ground surface. 
The front wheels are usually built up, with a raised collar 
shrunk on the tire to prevent lateral slippage. A few wheels 
are made, however, with steel spokes cast into an iron hub 
and rim. 


The steering mechanism usually operates on the front wheels, 
though some attempt has been made to guide through the 
drivers, and on one light traction cultivator a single steering 
wheel is placed in the rear. In the majority of tractors a chain 
is attached near either end of the front axle, after being 
wrapped several times around a horizontal shaft, which is 
rotated by a worm gear and steering wheel. The entire axle 


is rotated about a pedestal which supports the frame. In 
another type the axle remains stationary. The wheels turn 
about short axes, being mounted on independent knuckles, 
as in an automobile. A single wheel in front is sometimes 
directed by means of a spur pinion and a segment of spur gear. 
The upright shaft carrying this pinion may be operated from 
the platform through a steering wheel and cable, or a line shaft 
with a bevel or spiral gear may take the place of the cable. 
In one friction-drive tractor a pair of friction disks are con- 
nected by a horizontal shaft and bevel pinions to an upright 
shaft which in turn acts upon the ordinary chain and drum. 
By bringing one or the other disk in contact with the rim of 
the adjacent flywheel, the power of the engine can be used for 
steering. In another case the steering is done almost auto- 
matically in plowing by a long triangular frame which extends 
forward of the front axle, carrying at the end of the frame a 
wheel which hugs the wall of the previous furrow. Cables 
extending from the hand steering wheel to the wheel on the 
triangular frame enable one to steer by hand for turning and 
for other kinds of work, 


The drawbar to which the plows are attached is usually 
supported by a strong truss riveted to the tractor frame. On 
most plowing tractors a plow beam, made of two pieces of angle 
or flat steel, extends across the rear, being pimched at intervals 
to allow the insertion of a pin and clevis. In some tractors 
this crossbar is merely to hold in place a swinging drawbar 
which is attached at a point near or in advance of the rear 
axle. This places the load nearer the center of the engine, 
and makes turning much easier. Frequently the tractor is 
equipped with an eyebolt and spring to absorb the jar on 
starting. Since a variation in the point of hitch may either 
increase or decrease the draft, it has been foimd advisable on 
some tractors to provide some means of adjusting the height 


of hitch. This is done either by a vertically swinging rod 
or a series of holes in an upright beam. 


For overcoming the disadvantage of the tractor in extremely 
soft ground, no device appears to be more successful than the 
substitution of a caterpillar tread for the ordinary round 
traction wheel. Although the idea is several generations old, 
a tractor with this type of transmission has only recently been 
put on the market in large numbers. The weight of the tractor 
is supported on steel rollers, which run upon the inside of a 
continuous belt made of pressed steel plates. The belt is 
driven by a sprocket and chain, so that the tractor virtually 
lays its own track and picks it up again. A single wheel in 
front supports part of the weight of the tractor at rest. Under 
working conditions, practically all the weight of the tractor 
is borne on the rear, where it is distributed over such an area 
as to reduce it to seven or eight pounds per square inch. Steer- 
ing is done by driving the caterpillar webs independently of 
each other, a slight amount of flexibility in the joints allowing 
them to tiu^ sidewise. The power is transmitted by a line 
shaft connected to the crankshaft by a multiple disk clutch. 
The connection is semi-flexible so that the bevel pinion on the 
end of the shaft may be shifted to engage a smaller driving 
gear for a change of speed. Two bevel driving gears are con- 
nected to the countershaft by independent friction clutches 
in order to accomphsh the forward and reverse motions. 
This tractor will work in many sections where the round- wheeled 
tractor is impracticable, but the natural wear on the many 
joints and the difficulty in turning the outfit are disadvantages 
which accompany high tractive efficiency. Power in this 
tractor is supplied by a high-speed four-cylinder foiu'-cycle 
verticle engine set lengthwise of the frame. 

A light tractor on the order of a motor truck, but adapter) 


especially to farm work, has been well received by many farmers 
having a greater variety of work than those in the grain belt. 
The tractor is equipped with a pulley for driving stationary 
machinery, and a drawbar for pulling plows. It has also a 
hauling body which will carry a load of three or foiu- tons. 
The weight of the tractor is quite evenly distributed over the 
four wheels, hence for plowing it is more efficient when carrying 
some load over the drivers. The tractor is spring-mounted 
and adapted to speeds of from two to fifteen miles per hour. 
Wooden plugs, set in roimd sockets on the circimiference of 
the wheels, take the place of rubber tires in adapting the tractor 
to hard roads. An extension rim is provided with mud lugs 
which automatically grip the soil when the wheels sink to a 
certain depth, and by a hand lever on each driver a series of 
sharp spikes may be thrust out beyond the periphery of the 
wheel and locked in position. 

The field of cultivating intertilled crops, which has long been 
regarded as the exclusive province of the farm horse, has been 
invaded by a tractor designed essentially for cultivating. This 
is a Ught outfit with large drivers carrying the weight of the 
engine and frame, and a small steering wheel in the rear. The 
cultivator is built in sizes for taking care of one and two rows 
respectively, but has been sold as yet in a very limited way. 

Gas tractors have been adapted to nearly as many different 
purposes as steam tractors. One type is built low for orchard 
cultivation. Others may be converted into road rollers. 
Mention has been made in a previous chapter of the long list 
of gas-propelled farm machines, out of which may come some 
universal type. Perhaps the latest adaptation is the use of a 
six-cylinder tractor for pulling a combined harvester. A 
belt extends from the flywheel of the engine to an electric 
generator mounted on the harvester, to furnish power for driv- 
ing the cutting, threshing, cleaning, and elevating mechan- 
isms of which the harvester is composed. 



GAS tractors range in size from 12 to 110 b.h.p., and 
from two and one half to fifteen tons in weight. The 
brake horsepower ratings are usually placed closer 
to the maximum load than for steam engines. This 
is logical, since the engines should be rated at the load which 
they will carry safely and economically. It is customary to 
provide 10 to 20 per cent, of power over the rating in order to 
protect the machine from overloading and the customer 
from disappointment. The gas tractors are fairly well divided 
by manufacturers into three classes. The first consists of 
tractors of from 18 to 30 b.h.p., capable of handling three or 
four plows in ordinary sod-breaking. The second is provided 
with from 40 to 50 b.h.p., handling from five to seven plows in 
heavy work. The largest class ranges from 60 to 75 b.h.p., 
with the ability to pull from eight to ten plows under the same 
conditions. A few have been made even larger than these, 
but are not as yet sold so extensively as either the smaller 
gas tractors or steam engines of large size. They will pull 
ten or twelve breaking plows, comparing in power with 
steam engines of 30 to 32 h. p., nominal rating. Recently 
there have also been put on the market a nimiber of small 
outfits weighing from two to four tons, and having as low as 
12 b.h.p. 

The indicated horsepower of gas tractors is seldom given 
among the manufacturer's specifications. The brake horse- 
power at full load is usually from 75 to 85 per cent, of the 



indicated horsepower, though often lower. In the Winnipeg 
motor contests few gas tractors have equalled their rated power 
in brake tests. In 1910 the class as a whole averaged 86.5 
per cent, of the brake rating on a maximum test, and 80.9 
per cent, on an economy test. The actual drawbar or tractive 
power of tractors cannot so easily be compared on account of 
lack of uniformity in rating. The sales rating is sometimes 
based on brake and sometimes on tractive horsepower, 
while in many cases it bears Uttle relation to either. As a 
general rule the tractive ratings are about one half the brake 

The tractive efficiency of the average round-wheel gas tractor 
on good footing ranges from 50 to 60 per cent., dropping some- 
times to as low as 30 per cent, and occasionally reaching 70 
per cent. In the trials at Winnipeg in 1909 seven single-cylinder 
gasoline tractors, using comparatively low, wide wheels, weighed 
299 pounds per inch in width of driver and 535 poimds per 
brake-horsepower developed in an economy test. In plowing, 
they delivered 61.4 per cent, of the brake-horsepower at the 
drawbar and in hauling, 50.8 per cent, assuming, of course, 
that a comparison of separate brake and traction tests is reliable. 
Basing the tractive efficiency on the fuel consumed per unit 
of work in the various tests, it fell to 44.1 per cent, in plowing 
and 35.5 per cent, in hauling. Ordinarily, of course, the trac- 
tive efficiency in hauling would be the greater, as road surfaces 
would be more solid than that of plowing fields. The hauling 
course for the tests afforded poor footing, as has been stated 

In the same tests, several multiple-cylinder gas tractors, 
equipped with high, rather narrow wheels, weighed 407 pounds 
gross per inch in width of driver, and 416 pounds per economy 
brake-horsepower. They were less affected by the adverse 
conditions in the hauling tests, both horsepower and fuel 
consumption indicating a tractive efficiency of a trifle over 
50 per cent. The actual figures were 53.1 per cent, in 


plowing and 49.9 per cent, in hauling, when based on a 
comparison of horsepower developed; and 53.8 per cent, 
and 53.3 per cent., respectively, when based on a comparison 
of fuel consmnption. With high wheels, tractors are able to 
negotiate extreme ground conditions with less loss in efficiency 
than the low-wheel types, especially if accompanied by light 

In the motor contest of 1910, with an average of 70 per cent, 
of the total weight resting upon the drivers, seven gas tractors 
exerted in plowing an average drawbar pull of 25 per cent, 
of their total weight or 35 per cent, of the weight on the drivers. 
In 1909 the gas tractors at Winnipeg averaged about 17 per 
cent, of their total weight in drawbar pull in two-hour hauling 
tests over a very uneven course, and about 24 per cent, in 
plowing firm level sod ground. As a mean of the two traction 
tests they developed one drawbar-horsepower for 922 pounds 
of total weight, or much more than could be reasonably expected 
of horses. 

In private tests made on a good stone road, one large gas 
tractor, drawn at its own rated speed of travel, required one 
sixth its rated brake-horsepower to move it. At the rate 
of two and one half miles an hour on an earth road, approx- 
imately 25 per cent, of its maximum brake-horsepower was 
consumed in moving. This shows clearly the loss due to mov- 
ing the weight of the tractor with merely its traction gearing 
in mesh and motor plant idle. Data on the loss in tractive 
efficiency due to grades, will be found elsewhere in this 

The gas tractor has small overload capacity, if it is run ordi- 
narily at its most economical load. In the last motor contest, 
eight tractors out of eleven were able to show less than 7 per 
cent, increase iu power between the economy and maximum 
brake test. The engines were not necessarily nm at the most 
economical or the maximum points in either case, and in fact, 
two showed a decrease in fuel consumption on developing a 



greater horsepower in the maximum test. Even with a slight 
increase in load, the majority of tractors consumed from 13 
to 35 per cent, more fuel per unit of work. The present types 
of tractor are considerably less flexible than the steam engine, 
and infinitely less so than the horse. 

From the various motor contests, we obtain the following 
table, which shows the amount of fuel consumed by gasoline 
engines in various classes of work. The fuel consmnption in 
the brake tests increases with the number of cylinders, as is 
to be expected. 


1 CnjNDEB 




















The gasoline used was of 70 specific, 64 Baume gravity. 
The average consumption for 27 brake tests was 0.747 pounds, 
or a trifle over a pint per horsepower hour. Nineteen brake 
tests averaged 1.67 lbs. and 12 hauling tests 1.91 lbs. per 
drawbar-horsepower hour. These averages are not strictly 
comparable with each other, owing to the fact that some 
tractors did not complete all of the tests and the data represent 
results in two succeeding years. No kerosene tractor has as 
yet achieved the thermal efficiency of the best gasoline tractors, 
but in all but the most remote districts the wide and growing 
disparity in fuel costs gives the former a marked conunerical 

Gas tractors have a wide range in speed, but for plowing 
few travel over 1.75 to 2.25 miles per hour, and the majority 


have plowing speeds of about 2 miles per hour. Owing to the 
fact that the majority carry fuel and water for a continuous 
run of ten or twelve hours, they are able to deliver from 85 
to 90 per cent, of their rated plowing speed in net furrow 
travel. For hilly country, tractors are geared for speeds of 
from 1 to 3 miles per hour. For Western conditions, even the 
high speeds are seldom above the latter figure. 

The cost of operating a tractor hinges on so many varying 
factors that dependable averages are scarcely to be had. Two 
men will handle almost any gas tractor and its load of plows. 
These two men and their board will cost from $6.00 to $7.00 
per day of actual work. A well designed and well built 
tractor should give 1000 days of service, working 10 hoiu-s 
per day. Interest rates range from 6 to 8 per cent, in the North- 
west. Repairs should not exceed 10 cents per acre at the out- 
side, and a reasonable figure is 2 per cent, annually of the first 
cost. Gasoline costs from 10 to 25 cents per United States gallon 
in different localities, and from 15 to SO cents per imperial 
gallon in Canada. Kerosene costs from 3 to 18 cents in United 
States and from 11 to 25 cents in Canada. Distillate can be 
had at from 1 to 4 cents below the cost of kerosene in various 
localities. The consumption of kerosene or distillate, taking 
the leading kerosene and gasoline engines as a whole, will prob- 
ably be slightly in excess of the consumption of gasoline, 
both in volume and weight, but the fuel costs per acre will 
be much less, ranging from 10 to 100 per cent, or even more 
in districts close to refineries. Lubricating oil will cost from 
50 cents to $1.00 per day in plowing, depending upon the size 
of the tractor and severity of the work. 

The following estimates of the comparative cost of production 
of wheat on old ground in eastern North Dakota are comparable 
for that section. However, the character of the soil, the dis- 
tance over which supplies and products must be hauled, 
the type of machine and the personality of the operator are 
all influential factors. 





Land rental. 









Pulverizing and seeding. 



Twine and cutting. 









Machinery costs. 











In the above summary of costs the overhead charges on the 
prime mover are included in the various costs of operation. 
Machinery costs for the tractor are a trifle higher, because 
of the added investment in suitable plows. 

The manager of a noted Dakota bonanza farm puts his cost 
of raising wheat with horses at $8.45, a figure which is lower 
than the average recently reported for that section by the 
United States Crop Reporter. A traction farmer only recently 
produced a 2000-acre crop of flax in the same section for 
$6.56 per acre, allowing for all overhead charges on engine, 
machinery and land. Roughly speaking, the gas tractor cuts 
10 cents per bushel from the cost of producing an acre of 
twenty-bushel wheat. 



THE intemal-combustion, or gas, tractor is of the 
greatest importance in the future development of 
power plowing. We need, therefore, to give con- 
siderable attention to the question of fuel for this 
type of motor, since the ultimate success of mechanical power on 
the farm will depend upon the certainty of an adequate supply 
of suitable fuel. It is obvious that certain fuels, which are 
so well adapted to stationary practice, that in some localities 
they predetermine the type of gas engine, may be utterly im- 
practicable for use in the gas tractor. We shall discuss in 
detail, then, only those which may be used economically in 

By their very natiure and source, natural, blast furnace, and 
city coal and water gases are not suitable for use in portable 
motors. However, Ocock suggests that the farm tractor's 
fuel will ultimately come from gas, which will be made directly 
from waste materials and compressed in tanks. This would 
allow the temperate zones to use the power of tropical vege- 
tation, saving the loss of energy encountered in converting 
raw vegetable materials into alcohol, and alcohol again into 
gas, but would entail the danger and expense of handling 
high-pressure tanks. Suction gas producers, making gas 
directly by drawing steam and air over an incandescent bed 
of anthracite coal, have been moimted on wheels with great 
economy of fuel as a result, but have proved too large and heavy 
to be considered seriously for traction work. Benzol, a volatile 



distillate of coal used extensively in Europe, has not yet been 
produced in America on a large scale. Up to the present 
time engines capable of burning heavy crude petroleums suc- 
cessfully have also been too heavy to mount in tractors. Our 
discussion then will be limited to alcohol and the petroleum 
distillates, since these are at present the most promising from 
all standpoints. 

Alcohol is the fuel of the distant future. While tests have 
shown that this fuel has many advantages over gasoline, such 
as safety, freedom from carbonization, less offensive exhaust, 
ease in mixing, and greater power from the same size of engine, 
the cost at the present time puts it out of the question for gen- 
eral use. Alcohol costs from three to five times as much as 
gasoline. Ordinarily it contains only from 10,200 to 12,900 
B.t.u. per pound, according to its purity, as compared with 
about 20,000 for gasoline or kerosene. According to prolonged 
scientific tests of an engine designed for gasoline, reported in 
Farmers' Bulletin 277, it required 1.8 times as much alcohol 
as gasoline for the same amount of power, with the engine at 
its best adjustment, while it was found possible by poor adjust- 
ment to double the consumption of alcohol. Engines designed 
for using alcohol, however, have shown a much higher thermal 
efficiency running on alcohol than the best gasoline engines 
running on gasoline. Since the burning of alcohol produces 
no smoke to reveal an improper mixture, the ordinary operator 
is very apt to use fuel wastefully. However, much attention is 
being given to the production of alcohol from cheaper materials 
by cheaper processes, and it is logical to expect that denatured 
alcohol will eventually be sold as cheaply as gasoline. This 
is especially true, since the price of gasoline is steadily advancing 
and much of the present high price of alcohol is due to the 
federal regulations imposed upon its manufacture. We may 
also expect even a greater degree of improvement in efficiency 
in alochol engines than in gasoline engines, which are already 
in a high state of perfection. 


Alcohol is derived from vegetable products by distilling a 
fermented mixture, a large per cent, of the heat value of the 
original material being lost in the process. Practically all 
vegetable products contain suflBcient cellulose, starches and 
sugars to yield a considerable amount of alcohol. However, 
the cost of most raw material is so great as to make its use out 
of the question. Either it is too valuable for other purposes 
or the cost of bringing it to the still is prohibitive. 

The Sim is hottest at the equator, and since plants can store 
up only about one fifteen-himdredth part of the heat which 
streams down upon a given area, we may expect some day to 
derive the greater part of our alcohol from tropical plants. 
Aside from this source the need seems most likely to be met by 
the fermentation and distillation of wood waste, sugar-beet 
molasses, or potatoes and on the crops bred especially for the 
purpose. A bushel of such potatoes will produce from two 
thirds to one and one half gallons of 90 per cent, alcohol. The 
average production of ordinary table potatoes, even for the 
state of Maine, is about 275 bushels to the acre, while an acre 
of German alcohol potatoes often yields as high as 400 or 500 
bushels. From two to three gallons of alcohol, used in the 
engine of the future, will suffice to plow an acre, hence one acre 
may furnish power enough to plow 200. 

To put it another way, the sim stores up power enough in 
an acre of plants, in a single season, to plow, sow, and harvest 
that acre for a century, since, for most crops, plowing takes 
more power than all other operations put together. So long 
as the sun shines and rains fall, alcohol represents an inexhaust- 
ible and universal source of fuel, hence, even with the inevi- 
table exhaustion of our stock of petroleum and coal, there is 
no cause for alarm. The immense deposits of the latter fuels 
seem to have been given to the world merely to sustain it until 
men could learn to use the power of the sun more directly. 

Steel and gasoline made the gas engine a success. All 
our gasoline comes from petroleum. Neglecting alcohol 


for the present, we usually think of some petroleum product 
when we discuss fuel for internal-combustion engines. Crude oil 
or petroleum is now generally thought to have been formed 
from vegetable or animal matter deposited in sedimentary 
rocks at the time of their formation. Oil and gas seem to have 
been produced by some sort of distillation, natural gas being 
a secondary product formed from the vaporization of petro- 
leum. Petroleum is usually found at depths of from SOO to 
2000 feet, or even more, under great pressure. The most 
profitable reservoirs or pools are found in inclined but imbroken 
strata of sand or porous rocks, covered with an impervious cap 
layer of shale rock or fine-grained limestone. The basins in 
which the oil accumulates are not imdergroimd caverns, but 
masses of coarse-grained rock. Oil, gas, and salt water are 
found together in nearly all oil fields. In fact, along our 
Pacific coast, and elsewhere, oil wells are sunk in the sands of 
the beach and sometimes in the ocean itself. The gas and 
water separate from the oil in layers according to density. 
In consequence the same field may have wells which tap the 
reservoirs at different points and produce natural gas, pure 
oil, and a mixture of oil and water, according to the layer 

Crude oil, as it flows or is pmnped from wells, is usually 
rather thick, of medium weight, and ranges from a light yellow 
or green to black in colour. Some oil, practically free from 
color, has been obtained from older geological formations. 
Some California oils are so heavy that they cannot be piped, 
hence are transported in V-shaped troughs. Coal as it comes 
from the mines is practically the same, except as to size, as 
when it gets to the consumer, though it varies in quality 
and composition according to the source from which it comes. 
Crude oil likewise varies a great deal in its original character, 
but it is different from coal in that the quality of its products 
can be further varied to an enormous degree by the method 
of refining. 


If crude oil is left standing at ordinary temperatures a part 
of it will be given off as vapor. On a warm day more vapor 
will be given off before evaporation stops than on a cold one. 
Likewise, if the oil is placed on a stove more gas is given off and 
the remaining liquid grows denser. At each rise in temperature 
more of the oil is vaporized, until nothing is left but a solid 
residuum. This behavior shows that petroleum is not a uni- 
form substance, but a mixture composed of large nimibers of 
different compounds. ' Li order to separate the oil into liquids 
which are uniform in quality a process s imil ar to the one just 
described is used, this being known as fractional distillation. 
It consists of applying successively higher temperatures to 
the crude oil to vaporize the various compounds, which are 
again condensed, provided, of course, they are liquid at ordi- 
nary temperatures. Each time evaporation stops, the tem- 
perature of the liquid is raised and another portion is distilled 
over, until finally the volatile matter is all driven off. 

From the foregoing it will be seen that petroleum contams: 

(1) some compounds which are gases at ordinary temperatures; 

(2) some which are normally liquid when confined, though 
evaporating quickly when exposed; (3) some which are liquid 
and require considerable heat to vaporize; (4) some which are 
normally liquid, vaporizing only with difficulty and at very 
high temperatures; and (5) some which for practical purposes 
are not volatile at all. The first group, roughly speaking, 
contains the natural gases. The second comprises the grades 
variously known as gasoline, benzine, naphtha, petroleum spirit, 
petrol, etc. , and a few rare products not of commercial importance 
such as rhigolene and cymogene. The third group is made up 
of illuminating oils, kerosene, paraffin oil, etc. "Middlings," 
or "distillate," comes under this head, though as a matter of 
fact all the foregoing products are distillates of crude oil. 
The foiulh group contains the heavy fuel, gas, and lubricating 
oils, while the fifth comprises the solid lubricants, paraffin 
W£ix, petroleum coke, pitch, asphalt, etc. 


The weight of a given volume of these successive groups 
increases in a ratio roughly corresponding to their chemical 
composition. To obtain liquids which should each contain 
but a single chemical compound, hence be homegeneous in 
composition, the temperature of distillation for each fraction 
of the oil would have to be based on the boiling point of one 
compound. Even then it would be possible to obtain a pure 
chemical product only after several further refining processes, 
which would make the cost prohibitive. The very best com- 
mercial oils then, from the standpoint of imiformity, are the 
mixtures of several substances very nearly alike in composition 
and evaporating at nearly the same temperatiu'es. 

All petroleum distillates are composed of varying propor- 
tions of carbon and hydrogen and on that account are known as 
hydrocarbons. In the process of combustion they unite readily 
with oxygen, usually forming water and carbon dioxide, or 
carbonic acid gas. The lowest unit in which the two elements 
are chemically combined is known as the molecule, and the 
lightest molecule found in the Pennsylvania oils is that of 
marsh gas, or methane. It contains one atom of carbon and 
four of hydrogen, represented by the formula CH4. The bulk 
of the more complex compoimds occur in a practically regular 
series known as the paraffin series. Each contains one more 
atom of carbon and two of hydrogen than the one next below. 
Thus we have CgH j.CgHi g, etc., as formxilas for higher com- 
poimds. The latter is the lowest which is normally liquid, 
being one of the lightest constituents of gasoline. The carbon 
atom is heavier than the hydrogen atom in the ratio of 12 to 1. 
The marsh gas molecule, therefore, is three foiuilis carbon. 

Every reader knows that hot air will sustain a greater 
weight of vapor than cold air. A given volume of gas contains 
exactly the same number of molecules, no matter what kind it 
is; hence a cylinderful of kerosene vapor will weigh more than 
an equal volume of vapor from gasoline. From this fact arises 
the necessity for a higher temperature within the cylinder to 



vaporize and bum kerosene than to handle gasoline, also the 
practice of running kerosene engines on gasoline for a moment 
on starting. 

The only commercial standard of quality for Uquid fuels 
ordinarily considered, aside from their color, is the Baume 


• B 

• G 


■" & Distillate 

Kerosene f\ 

Lubricaling - 

and Waste 


and Waste 






VennsylvamaOils California OiJs 

Composition of crude oils 

gravity, in which the weight is compared with that of water. 
Water, which weighs eight and one third pounds per gallon 
at 60° P., is placed at 10° on the Baum6 scale. Liquids heavier 
than water have a lower value and lighter liquids a higher value. 
The Baum6 gravity may be calculated by the following formula 


if the weight in pounds per gallon is known at a temperature 
of 60" F.: 

(Weight in lbs. per gal. X 12 ) h- 100 ■= specific gravity 
(140 -f- specific gravity) — 130 =• degrees Baume 

For example: Common engine kerosene weighs about 6.7 
lbs. per United States gallon. Applying, the first formula is 
equivalent to dividing by the weight of water, and gives a 
specific gravity of .804. 140° ^ .804=174°h-130°=44°, the 
Baume gravity. 

The crude oils from diflFerent districts vary widely in their 
weight and composition. Those from the Appalachian dis- 
trict have a paraffin base, while those from the Southwest and 
California have largely an asphalt base. The two latter 
yield a much lower percentage of the lighter oils, such as com- 
mercial gasoline or naphtha, and a larger quantity of the 
heavy fuel oils, lubricants, wax, and solid waste. The difiFer- 
ence in weight of crude oils is shown in the following table of 
Baume gravities: 


Pennsylvania .... 42 to 50 

West Virginia, Kentucky 40 to 46 

Ohio, Indiana . .. 37 to 40 

Illinois ... 30 to 34 

Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana 22 to 32 

Texas 16 to 26 

California 12 to 28 

Though crude oil and its products vary in weight per gallon, 
they are remarkably uniform in heat value for a given weight. 
American crude oils range from 18,000 to 22,000 B.t.u. per 
pound, an analysis of fifteen from various sources averaging 
20,400. A conservative estimate will place commerical gaso- 
line and kerosene at 20,000 B.t.u. per pound. 

The world's first systematic boring for oil occurred when 
the Pennsylvania field was opened in 1859, and, until the 
rapid introduction of the gasoline engine made greater produc- 



tion necessary, this and the adjoining states supplied the great 
bulk of the petroleum refined in America. A work pubhshed 
prior to 1899 gives the following results from fractional distil- 
lation of a Pennsylvania petroleum haviug .80 specific (45 B.) 
gravity. The Baum6 gravity is added by the formula quoted. 
It represents roughly the classification of petroleum products 
at that time: 












Rhigolene \ petroleum 
Cymogene / ether 


.690-. 625 




Gasoline (petroleum 


.636-. 657 



Benzine, Naptha C, 



.680-. 700 



Benzine, Naphtha B 


.714-. 718 


" A 


.725-. 737 


Polishing Oils 




338° and 


Kerosene (Lamp Oil) 


.802-. 820 


Lubricating Oil 


.850-. 915 


Paraffin Wax 


Residue & Loss 


The products lighter than lamp oil comprised only about 16 
per cent, of the total and showed a much wider range in gravity 
than kerosene. 

The mid-continent and Western oil fields were opened 
at a much later date. They are now producing oil in abundaice, 
but yield even a lower proportion of the lighter oils. The 
following recently compiled percentage analysis of a typical 
California crude illustrates the difiFerence in character of 

Naphtha, gasoline, benzine, etc., 2.8; commercial "distillate," 
23.1; kerosene, 14.4; lubricants, 34.1; wax or asphalt, 21.4; 
residue and waste, 4.2. 

Many of the former grades have now been abandoned and 


the naphthas from 52° to 80° Baume are commonly grouped to- 
gether to form a yield of about 10 per cent, of commercial 
gasoline. The gasoline of to-day is the " Naphtha A" of 
ten years ago, while true gasoline is rare and issued almost 
solely for aeroplanes, racing automobfles and other extreme 
purposes. Distillates of 52° to 58° Baume, which are now sold 
as benzine to the paint trade, become naphtha to the owner 
of a motor boat. 

There are two ways in which fuel of a certain specific gravity 
can be obtained. One way is to distil into it only that fraction 
of crude oil which approximates the desired density, thus 
gaining a very uniform product. The other is to mix together 
distillates of high and low gravity so as to obtain a mean some- 
where near what is required. It is obvious that at any given 
temperature a portion of the latter oil will evaporate at a much 
more rapid rate than the remainder, so that the oil left in the 
reservoir will continue to grow heavier. The ideal fuel is the 
one which is uniform in composition, as it is equally obvious 
that a carbureter adjusted to handle the lighter constituents 
will be imable to handle the heavier parts without readjustment. 
Uniform fuel would require but one adjustment of the mixture 
for any given condition of work. The weight or Baum6 gravity 
of a liquid fuel is not a reliable indication of its composition — 
i. e., its vaporizing qualities. Nothing but fractional distilla- 
tion will disclose whether or not heavy and light products have 
been mixed. 

If conunercial fuel oils were pure chemical compounds it 
would be a much simplerprocessthanat present to supply the 
proper conditions of temperature and mixture to insm-e perfect 
combustion. But we have seen that Pennsylvania crude oil, 
which weighs about the same per gallon as ordinary engine 
kerosene, is composed of substances varying from solid residues 
to liquids which vaporize at low temperatures. From this 
it is evident that the amount of imifonn fuel of high Baum6 
gravity which could be supplied was always linuted. 


A long period of use and waste has exhausted many of the 
valuable weUs. Not only that, but oil from the older fields 
has lost much of its volatile matter in the form of gas, and is 
heavier than formerly. Crude oil from other and newer sources 
has seldom duplicated the high percentage of light gravity 
distillates, hence has yielded even less of the high grade fuels. 
Heavy-producing foreign fields, also, generally yield oils of 
much greater density, and crude oil engines have been more 
in demand abroad than in this coimtry. 

High gravity fuel is constantly changing in quaUty and 
advancing in price. Makers of gasoline carbureters are 
constantly being forced to meet a new situation. In order to 
obtain fuel enough to supply the growing trade, and at the 
same time avoid mixing distillates of a wide range in weight, 
it will be necessary to use oil of comparatively low gravity on 
the Baume scale. By using gasoline of 56° B. we can obtain 
a sufficient quantity from Texas and Oklahoma oils without 
straining the natural constitution of the oil. This in turn 
presents greater difficulty in carburetion and involves the 
changing of the design of most of the present carbureters. 
Once they are adjusted to heavier fuels, they should be able 
to handle them without difficulty, except on starting. To 
do so, however, will require automatic means for taking care 
of the constant variation in conditions presented by the chang- 
ing loads. By adopting the lower gravity products the situa- 
tion will become settled for many years. The heavier standard 
fuels can already be supphed in abundance, and permanent 
standards of quaUty can be set up for the benefit of refiner, 
user, and designer. 

Great changes took place in the oil situation in the last 
few decades. Forty years ago kerosene was refined for use in 
lamps, while gasoline was a by-product. Gasoline of 76° 
to 85° B. was disposed of in enormous quantities by burning 
in the open air. The change in quality of crude oil brought 
a decrease in the percentage of gasoline and an increase in the 


percentage of kerosene. Where Pennsylvania oils formerly 
yielded as high as 16 per cent, of gasoline, benzine, and naphtha, 
they now yield less than 10 per cent., and the Appalachian 
district, which includes the surrounding states, yields now only 
about 15 per cent, of the total supply of crude oil. The Illinois, 
the mid-continent fields, Texas and California, now yield 
from nine to thirteen gallons of kerosene and so-called engine 
distillate to each one of gasoline where distillation is complete. 
Furthermore, the commercial gasoline is much less volatile, 
having been lowered from 76° to 60° B., in about fifteen years. 
The percentage of gasoline of the former quaUty from 
the present heavy-producing districts would be practically 

The shift of the centre of production has been no less rapid 
than the invention of apparatus for iising the more volatile 
hydrocarbons. The gasoline stove taught the people the use 
of gasoline, and during the last two decades the development 
of the gas engine for automobile, stationary, traction, marine, 
and commercial purposes has increased the demand by leaps 
and bounds. The domestic consumption of gasoline has in- 
creased from 14,000,000 gallons in 1905 to 50,000,000 gallons 
in 1910. A surplus of kerosene is being refined simply to 
furnish an adequate supply of gasoline, even though much 
of the crude oil at the present time is merely skimmed — i.e., 
the gasoline is taken out to supply the present demand, and 
the rest, including the kerosene, either stored or used for 
fuel under steam boilers. 

The use of the kerosene lamp is now all but confined to 
rural districts. In many large sections of the country the 
consumption of kerosene for all purposes is less than that of 
gasoline. The tail wags the dog. Gasoline, formerly a by- 
product of illuminating-oil refining, is now the only petroleum 
product which taxes the capacity of the refineries. Refiners 
have stored kerosene to the limit of their tank capacity, and 
from every source comes the information that unusual methods 



are being adopted to create a demand for it. Oil companies 
are pushing the kerosene stove instead of the gafioline stove. 
They are handling oil heaters, lanterns, lamps and every 
device for increasing kerosene consmnption. Befiners are 
stipulating the purchase of a carload of kerosene with every 
carload of gasoline. 

In the ten years previous to 1909 the export value per 
gallon of naphthas rose 56 per cent, as against 19 per cent, 
for kerosene and practically nothing for crude oil. The ex- 
ports of kerosene increased twenty-three and one half times 


The bigger the cow the thinner the cream 


faster than those of gasoline. Even 
in far-off China 400 million people are 
being taught the use of our discarded 
kerosene lamp, to provide a market 
for the by-product. 
It is diflScult now to secure the lightest crude oil products 
in the open market, since they assist the refiner to dispose of 
some of the heavier compounds in mixtures sold as commercial 
gasoline. A prominent oil man says that the proposition 
is like that of a dairy farmer. His Jersey cows can produce 


only a certain amount of milk to supply a certain town. Some 
of his cows go dry. Jerseys are scarce, and he has to replace 
them with Holsteins which give more millf but less cream. 
At the same time new-fangled breakfast foods have increased 
the demand for cream. The dairy man at first has his choice 
of two courses: first, to advance the price of cream and throw 
away the skim milk entirely; and second, to dilute the cream 
with as much skim milk as he dares, sell the rest of the milk 
for what he can get, and make up the profits by advancing the 
price on the lower grade of cream. In order to meet the de- 
mand for cream he is finally forced to the latter course. In 
this comparison the Jersey cows may be likened to the Pemj- 
sylvania oil wells, which produced a higher percentage of gas- 
oline than any other oil field ever opened. The Holsteins 
which replace these are the oil wells of Oklahoma, Texas, 
and California, which yield even more oil, but of lower quality 
from the vaporizing standpoint. The breakfast foods are the 
hundreds of thousands of gasoline engines used for every 
conceivable purpose. It is not a question now of the price 
of kerosene or gasoline. 

The problem is to supply the demand for the latter and dis- 
pose of the former on any basis whatever. The scarcity is 
not of whole milk but of the cream in that milk. In con- 
sequence of the changes there has been a natural shift in 
prices. Gasoline has increased threefold in price in fifteen 
years and is steadily advancing. Engine kerosene, on the other 
hand, is about one seventh the price received for illuminating 
oil twenty-five years ago, and in the last two years has declined 
40 per cent, in price at the refinery. It costs now from one 
third to two thirds as much as gasoline, according to the amount 
of freight which is added after it leaves the refinery. The cost 
of the lighter oils such as gasoline and benzine, is even higher 
in Europe than in America owing to the scarcity of the lighter 
constituents in Russian and Roumanian oils. The question 
naturally arises as to the futiure of fuel for gas engines, as 


there is abundant petroleum for many generations, provided 
ways are found to make economical use of it all. The present 
rate of expansion of the supply is due to the fact that most 
common internal combustion engines have been capable of 
using only the slight percentage of oil which is refined into gaso- 
line, while a large part has been wastefully burned under 
steam boilers. There is no cause for alarm as carburetors can 
be made to handle the heavier fuels if the latter are at all imi- 
form, and they are more apt to be so than is gasoline at present. 
It is simply necessary for manufacturers to reconcile themselves 
to the situation and develop carburetors for handling fuel 
which can be supplied in adequate quantities without leaving 
an enormous surplus of unsalable by-products. In any event, 
there is no use in complaining, as gasoline cannot even now be 
furnished in sufficient quantities. The world has plenty of 
crude oil that will yield the heavier distillates. The principal 
producing fields are in Russia and America, which together, 
yield about 90 per cent, of the supply. Galicia, Roumania, 
and India yield about 4 per cent., and the remainder comes 
from Canada, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Burmah, Japan, Ger- 
many, Austria, Italy, and newer fields. It is being found in 
new places each year. Nearly every South and Central 
American country has been found in the last few years to 
contain paying deposits. 

Oil has been foimd in paying quantities in Pennsylvania, 
West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, which form what 
is known as the Appalachian group. Illinois, Kansas, Okla- 
homa, Louisiana and Texas produce abundantly and Califor- 
nia constitutes still another important area. The real develop- 
ment of Texas and Oklahoma as important fields did 
not begin until about 1902. From 1902 to 1908 Texas 
produced 122,500,000 barrels and an immense area of costal 
plain has not yet been tapped. In 1907 Oklahoma produced 
over 44,000,000 barrels and it was estimated that only one 
per cent, of the state's oil and gas has been developed. It 


has recently been estimated that in California it will take oil 
companies one hundred years at the present rate simply to 
open up the field, and new fields have just been discovered in 
the Northwest. 

Canada produces about one fifth of the petroleum fuels 
consumed in the Dominion. At the present time all grades of 
gasoline, benzine, and naphtha are brought in free of duty, pro- 
vided they are lighter than .730 specific gravity. This fuel 
corresponds to about 682° B. All grades of crude oil heavier 
than .8235, corresponding to about 40° B, enter free. Kero- 
sene and light-coloured engine distillate must pay a duty of 
21 cents per imperial gallon, which brings the price relatively 
much nearer the price on gasoline than in the United States. 
The imperial gallon used in Canada is one fifth larger than 
the standard gallon of the United States. 

Petroleum fuels are commonly shipped to distributing points 
in tank cars holding from 6000 to 8000 gallons. From these 
points they may be distributed by means of tank wagons hold- 
ing about 500 gallons, or in steel or wooden barrels of 42 gallons 
each. In many localities wonderful tank wagon service brings 
fuel to the farmer's door at, or very slightly above, the whole- 
sale price. Most operators find it convenient and even nec- 
essary to own tank wagons of their own, either for hauling 
from the distributing point or for service while the engine 
is at work in the field. The storage of gasoline or kerosene 
on the farm previous to the opening of the season's work has 
many advantages. A better price may often be obtained and 
the work can be done more cheaply at odd times. 

In storing gasoline it must be remembered that the vapor 
is given off very readily and is extremely difficult to confine. 
Being heavier than air, it will spread out and flow along the 
ground. In consequence, a light even at some distance may 
ignite the gas and cause a flame to travel back to the place of 
storage. Before this was understood and the necessary pre- 
cautions taken this caused many accidents in the oil districts. 


A cubic foot of gasoline vapor will form a violently explosive 
mixture with a large quantity of air, at ordinary temperatures, 
hence we can readily understand the cause of many explosions 
where volatile oils are kept in enclosed rooms. Absolute 
freedom from leakage is therefore an important essential. 
Steel tanks are to be preferred to wood receptacles, and welded 
to riveted seams. 

It frequently happens that the evaporation from the sur- 
face of gasoline is sufficient to reduce the temperature to the 
point at which moisture from the adjacent air will condense 
upon the surface. Being heavier, the water will find its way 
to the bottom of the tank. As the pump to the carbureter 
is usually connected with the lowest point in the storage tank, 
water is thus very apt to get into the carbureter and stop the 
engine. There are many patent filters for removing water, 
the common chamois skin being employed in a great many. 
The gasoUne passes readily through this fabric, leaving the 
dirt and water behind. 

Dirt finds its way into the storage tank through careless 
handling of the fuel, through rusting of some of the parts and 
through the chipping off of small pieces of solder. These are 
naturally pimiped into the carbureter, where they clog the 
small needle-valve openings and stop the engine for lack of fuel. 
Great care should be taken to keep the storage tanks clean and 
to prevent the introduction of water and dirt in fuel. 

The water required by gas tractors varies with several 
factors, such as the load, the atmospheric temperature, and 
the type of cooling system used. In brake tests during tractor 
competitions, where steam engines used from 28 to 36 lbs., 
gas tractors used from practically nothing up to 2.9 lbs. of 
water per brake-horsepower hour, averaging about ij pints. 
The non-evaporating cooler required the least, and the 
simple evaporating cooler, the most. Some kerosene tractors 
which do not use water for cooling, use it in connection with 
the fuel in the cylinder, at from half to full load. In this case 


the ratio of water to fuel increases with the load until at full 
load it is practically 1.1. Roughly, it may be said that few gas 
tractors use a barrel of water per day in the heaviest work 
during the hottest weather. 


WiU H. Ogilvie, in the London Spectator 

From Egypt behind my oxen, with their stately step and slow. 
Northward and east and west I went to the desert sand and the snow; 
Down through the centuries, one by one, turning the clod to the shower. 
Till there's never a land beneath the sun but has blossomed behind the power. 

I slide through the sodden rice-fields with my grunting, hump-backed steers, 
I turned the turf of the Tiber plain in Rome's imperial years; 
I was left in the half-drawn furrow when Cincinnatus came. 
Giving his farm for the Forum's stir to save his nation's name. 

Over the seas to the north I went; white cliffs and a seaboard blue; 
And my path was glad in the English grass as my stout, red Devons drew; 
My path was glad in the English grass, for behind me rippled and curled 
The com that was life to the sailormen that sailed the ships of the world. 

And later I went to the north again, and day by day drew down 
A little' more of the purple hills to join my kingdom brown; 
And the whaups wheeled out to the moorland, but the gay gulls stayed with me 
Where the Clydesdales drummed a marching song with their feathered feet 
on the lea. 

Then the new lands called me westward; I foimd on the prairies wide 

A toil to my stoutest daring and a foe to test my pride; 

But I stooped my strength to the stiff, black loam, and I found my labor sweet 

As I loosened the soil that was trampled firm by a million buffaloes' feet. 

Then farther away to the northward; outward and outward still, 

(But idle I crossed the Rockies, for there no plow may till!) 

"Till I won to the plains unending, and there on the edge of the snow 

I ribbed them the fenceless wheat fields, and taught them to reap and sow. 

The sun of the Southland called me; I turned her the rich brown lines 
Where the paramatta peach trees grow and her green Mildura vines; 
I drove her cattle before me, her dust and her dying sheep, 
I painted her rich plains golden, and taught her to sow and reap. 

From Egypt behind my oxen, with stately step and slow, 

I have carried your weightiest biu-dens, ye toilers that reap and sow' 

I am the ruler, the king, and I hold the world in fee; 

Sword upon sword may ring, but the triumph shall rest with me. 



THE plow is our oldest agricultural implement. In- 
deed, systematic agriculture began when man first 
took his crude war club and with it stirred the 
soil. The shape of the primitive plow suggested the 
first letter of the alphabet. The Book of Job is the oldest 
part of the Old Testament, yet this work begins: "And 
there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were 
plowing and the asses feeding beside them; and the Sabeans 
fell upon them and took them away; yea they have slain the 
servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped 
alone to tell thee." Ancient monuments, dating • back 
forty centuries, bear sculptured representations of t|he plow. 
Ulysses was plowing among the sands of the shore at Ithaca 

Vhen he feigned madness 
before the messengers of 
Agamemnon. Virgil de- 
scribes the plow used by 
Cincinnatus, and Horace, 
warning the Roman Repub- 
lic against encroachment of 

Prom an Egyptian monument. SOOO. B. C. ^^^ nobles' fish ponds upon 

the peasants' fields, writes 
in his Ode, "only a few more acres are left for the plow." 
Ceres, the patron Goddess of Agriculture in Greek mythology, 
inspired Triptolemus to invent the plow at the time she taught 
him the art of husbandry and placed him in charge of her work 



of distributing com to all the inhabitants of the earth. The 
ancient Egyptians had progressed from the crooked stick to a 
plow consisting of wooden beam, shank, and handle. As early 
as 1100 B. C, two thousand years before the horse was har- 
nessed to the plow, the Israelites, who were unskilled in work- 
ing iron, "went down to the Philistines to sharpen, every 
man, his share and his coulter." 

History does not give the date of the first plow nor the 
name of its inventor. The earliest records chronicle its gen- 
eral use in the preparation of the soil for the harvested crop, 
but long before written history began men must have observed 
that the loosened earth bore most abundantly. Perhaps the 
snout of the wild boar, in its quest for grubs, suggested the 
shape. A bludgeon sharpened to a point was the crude 
imitation, and later a widening of the point into chisel shape 
made the instrument more rapid in its work. The primitive 
man — the savage — imused to monotonous toil, first yoked 
his womankind to the plow, then, with forked stick and thong 
pressed into service the cattle grazing on the hillsides about 
him. The long end of the fork at the horns of the bull, the 
short in the ground, the trunk as a handle, and the plow was 
invented. The marvelous ease with which the new implement 
loosened the soil, as compared with the muscle-straining 
drudgery of the pointed stick, overwhelmed the devout and 
overawed the superstitious. Plow and power alike took 
on Oljonpian attributes. A writer of the last mid-century 
suggests that the early and widespread belief in the divine origin 
of agriculture, which discouraged as impious any improve- 
ment in ancient processes, may have been responsible for the 
centuries which passed without any alteration in the character 
of the plow. Certain it is that in many parts of the world, to 
some extent even in the very foremost agricultural districts, 
nothing is harder to introduce than new farm methods, as 
though the shadow of that ancient delusion still fell upon the 
tiller of the soil. The native Egyptian plow from the valley 


of the Nile shows no improvement over the plows of five 
thousand years ago; in Mexico and Spain the wooden plow of 
the Moors outnumbers the steel plow of America; all of our 
civilization lies this side of the stick-plow of the Cingalese. 

The first plows for brute power were made wholly from the 
natural crooks of the branches of trees, each with a brace added 

to strengthen the union 
^ — - " _ 7 ''-«'-^ ^<^^ between the beam and the 
''^' '^^'^^ upright share. Pins in the 

forepart of the beam con- 
nected it with the square 
Plow from Asia Minor yoke then used on draft 

oxen, and a natural crook 
gave the plowman a handle for guiding. Such were the plows 
used by Job and Ulysses. 

Three thousand years before the Christian Era the Egyptians 
had evolved a broader, triangular share to take a wider furrow 
than the plow of Asia Minor just described. Two handles in 
place of one made it easier to guide. The plow used by Cin- 
cinnatus and Cato was an improvement over a stiU older 
form used in the days of the Tarquins. Their plow for a 
long time seemed incapable of improvement. Virgil, in his 
Georgics, describes the plow of his day, which coincides with 
the earlier descriptions. It had a point made of two pieces of 
wood meeting at an acute angle. An iron plate covered the 
j)oint, and two pins, or teeth, set obliquely, one into each leg 
of the angle, performed the office of a moldboard in lifting and 
pulverizing the soil. 

In Britain an implement called the caschrom served the 
early husbandmen, and 
was in use in the Hebrides 
and the Isle of the Sky 
until late in the nineteenth 
century. A single curved 
piece of wood, the lower Javanese rtick plow 


end nearly horizontal, the upper resting on the plowman's 
shoulder, forms the share, beams and handles of the caschrom. 

The only additions of inventive genius were a sidewise 
projecting pin for convenience in regulating the depth 
by the foot and an iron chisel-point for the share. 

The plow up to this point was merely an instrument which 
pulverized the soil by passing through it and disturbing it in 
its place. Next came the conception of the plow as a wedge 
for moving the earth and redepositing it in a broken condition. 
Some wedges acted horizontally, lifting the earth and allowing 
it to fall back in the furrow. Others acted laterally, pushing 
aside the furrow slice and 
leaving a clear space for 
the next furrow. Plows 
in which this crude appli- 
cation of the single wedge 
is found are still widely 
used in Mexico and Spain, Ancient Mexican plow. This type still 
occasionally in France and 

Italy. They represent the only improvements in plows 
during the long Middle Ages over the round-pointed or tri- 
angular sticks of the ante-Christian Era. Except for the in- 
vention of the coulter about the eleventh century no one had 

Old English plow, 1470 A. D. 

yet conceived the idea of both lifting the soil and shoving it 
aside by a combination of horizontal and lateral wedges, though 
in a type of French plow used in the Middle Ages a hint 
of the modem curvature of share and moldboard is given. 


THE Dutch, owing to the difficult conditions to be 
met in their lowlands, were among the first really 
to improve upon the primitive Roman plows. 
They evolved a moldboard which twisted and 
turned aside the furrow, and protected the wooden parts 
from groimd friction by a covering of iron. The revival of 
interest in agriculture in England in the eariy part of the 
eighteenth century turned concerted attention toward the 
improvement of the plow. Some of the Dutch plows imported 
about this time were copied by English makers. The first 
of these, known as the Rotherham plow, was made by Joseph 
Foljambe, of Yorkshire, who received letters patent in 
1720. Foljambe's plow, as afterward made by Staniforth, was 
of wood, with a short-lived sheet-metal covering. The point 
was conical, rather than sharply chiseled, and burrowed rather 
than cut its way. A bridle, or clevis, was provided for the 
first time so the point might be set for depth and either to or 
from the land. The vertical and horizontal wedges were 
combined in the moldboard and connected by a curved line, 
so that the furrow slice was first raised a little and gradually 
inverted clear of the space in which it lay. 

Jethro Tull, published in 1731, the first edition of his "New 
Horse Houghing Husbandry." In this work, the outgrowth of 
his travels and experiments, he set forth radically new theories. 
He emphasized the beneficial effects of tillage after the sowing of 
the crop, the current practice being to i)erform the entire work 



of cultivation during the preparation of the seed bed. He 
saw that the more finely divided the soil, the more readily plants 
grew, and "the stronger the soil is, the more benefit will it 
receive from this method of culture, if the land be thereby 
more pulverized." While devising many interesting horse- 
drawn tools, the more easily to carry out the methods he pro- 
posed, he gave much attention to the improvement of plows. 

"'Tis strange," Tull says, "that no author should have 
written fully of the Fabric of Ploughs! Men of the greatest 
Learning have spent their Time in contriving Instruments to 
measure the immense Distance of the Stars, and in finding out 
Dimensions, and even Weight of the Planets; they think it 
more eligible to study the Art of plowing the Sea with Ships 
than of tilling the Land with Ploughs; they bestow the utmost 
of their Skill, learnedly, to prevent the natural Use of all the 
Elements of Destruction of their own Species by the Bloody Art 
of War. Some waste their whole Lives in studying how to 
arm Death with new Engines of Horror and inventing an 
infinite Variety of Slaughter; but think it beneath Men of 
Learning (who only are capable of doing it) to employ their 
learned Labors in the Invention of new (or even improving the 
old) Instruments for increasing of Bread." 

Tull was the first to proclaim aloud the necessity for inten- 
sive cultivation. In his time the present countless variations 
in tillage implements were not available for purposes of "The 

Tlie old Berkshire toiir-coultered plow ▼ 

New Husbandry," hence it is not surprising to find him giving 
preference, not to the Rotherham plow, which approached 


more closely than any other of that time, the modem imple- 
ment, but to the old Berkshire plow. This plow had a pair of 
wheels to support the beam and a clumsy device by means of 
which front of latter could be elevated or depressed to change 
the depth of plowing. The point was of iron, also the ground 
wrest, which in later plows has been superseded by the con- 
tinuation of the point into a share. The ground wrest was 
placed at an angle to the landside in the horizontal plane, 
like the edge of a modem share, but stood nearly perpendicular 
to the bottom of the furrow. It constituted the wearing plate 
and supported the wooden moldboard. The latter, only 
slightly curved, joined the ground wrest at an angle which was 
sufficient to invert the furrow slice. In shape and ease of 
draft it was inferior to the Rotherham plow, but in its four- 
knife coulters it possessed the capacity for pulverizing the soil 
better than any previously known tillage implement, and this 
outweighed all other considerations with Jethro Tull. Three 
of these coulters were mortised into the beam ahead of the 
plow point, and the fourth about midway between the point 
and the forepart of the moldboard. Each of the last three 
was an equal distance to the left and rear of the one ahead, 
and inclined a trifle more from the perpendicular. 

Tull's argument in favor of the plow is substantially as 
follows: "It divides the land more completely, affording 
greater access to air and moisture. The furrow being cut into 
four parts, it will have four times the superfices that it would 
have without the coulter cuts; but this is not all. It is more 
divided crossways, viz. : The ground wrest presses and breaks 
the lower (or right hand) quarter; the other three quarters, in 
rising and coming over the earth board, must make a crooked 
line about a fourth longer than the straight one they made 
before being moved; therefore, their thinness not being able 
to hold them together, they are broken into many more pieces 
for want of tenacity to extend to a longer line. This is con- 
trary to a whole furrow, whose great breadth enables it to 



stretch and extend from a shorter to a longer line without 
breaking, and as it is turned off the parts are drawn together 
again by the spring of the turf, and so remain whole after 

Tull's analysis of the objects desired and the exact manner 
in which the old Berkshire plow accomplished them should 
have led to a much earher solution of the problem. His system 
of horse-hoe husbandry, however, was derided at the time 
and the four-coultered plow was never widely adopted. Its 
functions have since been accomplished by more scientifically 
shaped plows and other tillage tools, but, as will be seen 
later, in much the same manner as he described nearly two 
centuries ago. 

James Small, of Scotland, took the Rotherham plow and from 
it made a light draft instrument which turned the furrows 
smoothly, without crumbling them. His factory at Black 

Small's East Lothian plow 

Adder Mount in Berwickshire was established in 1763, and 
before his death, thirty years later, he had so perfected the plow 
by experimental methods that almost exact duplicates of his 
models are still popular in Scotland. Many of these plows, 
with moldboard of cast iron, and share, beam, and handles of 


wrought iron, are to be found in Ontario and Quebec, still 
known as of the old Scotch model. 

Small's crowning achievement was the East Lothian plow. 
It had a curved beam, which was continued to form the left 
handle. From the points of the share of a perpendicular line, 
dropped from the fore end of the beam, the plow measured 
about twenty-four inches, only slightly more than the twenty- 
inch projection customary in modem walking plows. The 
handles, however, extended about five and a half feet back- 
ward from the rear point at which the moldboard touched the 
ground, as compared with about three feet from the heel of 
the share at present. In many of the later models handles 
seven to eight feet long were added. A keen blade coulter 
extended from the beam at an angle of about fifty-five degrees 
to landward to just opposite the point of the share or sock. 
The moldboard, instead of being fitted to the upper edge of 
the share, as is common in modern American plows, was set 
into the rear of the share, forming a continuation of the neck, 
or gorge of the latter. Its front edge, or breast, stood vertically, 
continuing the landside. Its heel was nine inches distant on the 
ground from the plane of the landside, whQe its upper edge 
overhimg the heel a distance of ten inches on the furrow side. 
The plow bottom, or sole, was thirty-six inches long. The 
extreme breadth of the share was from six to six and one half 
inches, but the moldboard, which was set only a half inch above 
the base line, served to tear loose several inches of uncut earth 
and turn a furrow ten to twelve inches wide. The bridle, 
by means of which the plow was made to run deeper or shal- 
lower and to or from the land, was a distinct step in advance 
and has not been changed materially up to the present time. 

One reason for the long-continued popularity of Small's 
plow lies in the ideal of plowing which prevails in Great Bri- 
tain. A high-shouldered, sharp-cornered furrow is desired, 
one furrow slice lapping its neighbor, perfectly straight and 
unbroken from one headland to the other. The angle of the 


coulter insured a sharp crest on the furrow edge left uppermost. 
The narrow share and long curving moldboard turned over a 
deep furrow without wrenching it apart, and the narrow cut- 
ting edge made it possible to maintain the proper depth of 
furrow, even in hard ground. The resulting plow was one 
which would not, of itself, swim freely, but the long handles 
gave the plowman the easy control essential to a straight fur- 
row. The plow is not regarded in England as a pulverizing 
instrument; hence there is little longitudinal twist to the 
moldboard, and only enough vertical curvature to invert the 
furrow slice. Small's plow did not crumble the crest of the 
furrow slice, and this, rather than its lightness and superior 
mechanical construction, rendered it immediately popular. The 
same feature to-day leads British farmers to give preference 
to plows of heavy draft but capable of turning their ideal 

By this time the conception of a plow as a combination of 
vertical and lateral wedges had been expressed in practice, if 
not in words. While shapes had been rendered in iron, plow- 
making was largely the joint office of the village carpenter and 
blacksmith, each of whom often carried out his ideas without 
reference to the other's.// Plows were generally of wood, faced 
with strips of iron, or cast-off horseshoes. The shaping of 
plows was largely empirical. One good plowmaker after 
another lived, flourished, and died, and his art died with him 
for lack of a formula for transmitting his results to his suc- 
cessor. The maker himself could seldom duplicate an ex- 
ceptionally fine plow, and real progress was slow. There 
gradually came a conviction, however, that some definite 
rule — some law of nature — should govern the shape of the 
plow, that in some way the cumbersome implement could be 
simplified, lightened, its draft diminished. 

To Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, 
must be given undyjugJame for evolving a mathematical analy- 
sis of the moldboard, one whereby its shape could be forever 


established, or altered with a foreknowledge of the results. 
His discovery marked a real epoch in agriculture and the 
beginning of the march of progress which has brought to us the 
perfect implement of to-day. He first brought denial to 
Jethro Tull's lament of a half dozen decades before, and was 
the leader of a long line of men who, for the nation, have ful- 
filled the prophecy of Isaiah — "They shall beat their swords 
into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks." His 
contribution to the history of the plow was really first utilized 
in Europe. 

During a trip through Lorraine in 1788, while serving as 
American Ambassador to France, Jefferson observed carefully 
the teams and implements used by the plowmen. Li his 
diary he wrote: "Oxen plow here with collars and hames. 
The awkward figure of their moldboards leads one to con- 
sider what should be its form. The offices of the moldboard 
are to receive the sod after the share has cut under it, to raise 
it gradually and to reverse it. The fore end of it should, there- 
fore, be horizontal, to enter under the sod, and the hind 
end perpendicular, to throw it over, the intermediate surface 
changing gradually from the horizontal to the perpendicular. 
It should be as wide as the furrow, and of length suited to the 
construction of the plow." He proposed a plan not only for 
making a moldboard which would present the least possible 
resistance to the passage of the earth, but for making any 
number of such moldboards by a conmion workman, using 
a process so exact that their forms should not vary by the 
thickness of a hair. On his return to America, having for- 
mulated his theories into a practical rule, he made several 
plows, and in 1793 put them into use on his estates in Albe- 
marle and Bedford counties, in Virginia. He satisfied himself 
as to their practical utihty and, probably before any other 
American inventor, proposed to have his moldboards made in 
future of cast iron. The English Board of Agriculture elected 
Jefferson an honorary member, and the French Academy ac- 


knowledged him as the inventor of the moldboard founded on 
mathematical principles. 

Jefferson demonstrated that the shaping of the moldboard 
could be reduced to an exact basis, but his plow was defective 
in many points. A diagonal drawn on the surface of the plow 
from the point of the share to the tip of the overhang on the 
moldboard was a straight liae. At every point on the diagonal 
an intersecting line touching the upper and lower edges of the 
moldboard would have been straight. On a vertical section 
of the moldboard, at any point except one, the line representing 
the face of the moldboard would have formed the hypotenuse 
of a right triangle if taken with the base line and a perpen- 
dicular dropped from the upper edge of the moldboard. The 
one exception is where points in the upper and lower edges 
were in the same vertical line. The absence of curves made 
it necessary to make the moldboard twice as wide as the furrow 
to prevent the earth from surmounting it and falling behind 
in the furrow. For the same reason it was necessary to make 
the moldboard very long and the twist very gradual. 

This reduced moldboard friction in one way, but the long 
bearing surface offset this advantage. It was impossible to 
secure enough overhang to turn the fmrow under all conditions 
without making the share too blunt and the plow impractical 
on accoimt of draft. Small, in Scotland, had in the meantime 
worked out by experiment the moldboard on his East Lothian 
plow, which, when analyzed, is seen to have followed a curve 
instead of a straight diagonal. This allowed a greater over- 
hang, without too blunt a share, and the precise nature of the 
curvature back of the centre of the moldboard reduced the 
abrasion of the crest of the furrow, as previously noted. 

After Small, Mr. Wilkie, of Uddingstone near Glasgow, was 
the next to alter the shape of the plow. His inventions were 
embodied in the Lanarkshire plow, the moldboard of which 
presented convex lines to the passage of the furrow slice, and 
thus minimized the friction on the cherished crest. He also 


raised the heel, or rear comer, of the share above the point. 
Thus he produced a furrow of trapezoidal section, partially 
to reduce the draft, but mainly to secure a sharper angle to 
the crest. These features are still in vogue and this plow has 
always been a close rival of the East Lothian among farmers 
who wish to see their furrows stand like saw-teeth. For plow- 
ing matches in Eastern Canada, even in late years, manu- 
facturers have built special plows incorporating these features, 
though plows for general use have conformed more closely to 
modem practice. 

Early in the century Stephens, in his "Book of the Farm," 
gave a mathematical method of shaping the moldboard. This 
was similar to Jefferson's, but by using the arc of a circle to 
generate the surface lines, instead of a straight diagonal, he 
produced a greater overhang at the rear and an easier slope 
in front. He conceived of the furrow sUce as a right prism, 
elastic enough to yield to the passing form of the plow, and 
tenacious enough to resmne its shape when laid in position. 
The slice must be turned on the lower right-hand edge as an 
axis through an arc of 90 degrees, then on what was the upper 
right-hand edge, through 45 degrees more, leaving it on a 45- 
degree slant instead of completely inverting it. To accomphsh 
this he proposed a wedge, twisted on its upper surface, and to 
find the form and dimensions of this wedge was, in his mind, 
to solve the problem of the shape of the moldboard. His 
plow was the first on which the neck of the share was elim- 
inated, the moldboard extending forward to form an angle 
with the heel of the share. In this respect, and in making the 
share cut the full width of the furrow, his plow still further 
resembled modem American practice. He advocated the 
use of malleable in place of cast iron for the moldboard by 
reason of its resistance to shocks, though pointing out the 
increased cost. The ideas worked out in Scotland by Small, 
Stephens, and Wilkie have influenced the design of plows to 
the present day. 



In England a great step in advance was made when, in 1785, 
Robert Ransome, of Ipswich, obtained a patent for making 
plowshares of cast iron, and again in 1803, when the same 
man perfected a method of case-hardening, or chilling, shares. 
Between 1800 and 1810 the plow made entirely of cast iron came 
into general use, and for the next quarter century the changes 
were largely in the way of local adaptations. About 1840 Rev. 
W. L. Rham proposed that all lines of the plow running from 
front to rear should be straight, the vertical lines being suited 
to the difiFerent soils — i.e., convex for stiff clay, straight for mel- 
low loams, and concave for sandy and loose soils. His theories 
were generally adopted in England, and in America plowmakers 

Howard'i plow. The utmost perfection in English plows of 1870 

were already following Pickering's teachings in this respect. 
About the same time, Mr. Howard had produced a plow with 
a share closely resembling modern types. Both his plow and 
Ransome's had jointers, gauge wheels, knife coulters and other 
improvements, and represented the latest stage of perfection. 
Factories established by these two men are still in operation. 


THE policy of England toward Colonial America was 
not such as to encourage manufacture, and few 
plows seem to have been imported. In 1631 there 
were but thirty-seven plows in Massachusetts Bay 
Colony. Owners were frequently granted a bounty for keep- 
ing plows in condition to do the work of the entire town. By 
1648 the Colony of Virginia had one hundred and fifty plows. 
The Colonial wheeled plow of 1748 was climisy and short. 
Kalm, in his "Travels in North America," writes: "The ill- 
shaped share and moldboard did not plow deep or straight, 
and great strength and skill were necessary to guide the 
plow. The wheels upon which the plow beam is placed are as 
thick as the wheels of a cart, and all the woodwork is so 
clumsily made that it requires a horse to draw the plow 
along a smooth field." 
•"-■^Jefferson's work was in advance of his generation. His 
scientific principles were lost in America during the first 
quarter of the last century, and the improved methods of Ste- 
phens and others had not been put into practice. Until the 
beginning of the nineteenth century plows were made by rule 
of thimib and by the least qualified artisans. A. B. Allen, in 
1856, described the methods as follows: 

"A winding tree was cut down, and a moldboard hewed 
from it, with the grain of the timber running so nearly along its 
shape as it could well be obtained. On to this moldboard, to 
prevent its wearing out too rapidly, were nailed the blade of 



an old hoe, thin straps of iron, or womout horseshoes. The 
landside was of wood, its base and sides shod with thin plates 
of iron. The share was of wood, with a hardened steel point. 
The coulter was tolerably well made of iron, steel edged, and 
locked into the share nearly as it does in the improved lock 
coulter plow of the present day. The beam was usually a 
straight stick. The handles, like the moldboard, were split from 
the crooked trimk of a tree, or as often cut from its branches. 
The crooked roots of the white ash were the most favored 
timber for plow handles in the Northern States. The beam 
was set at any pitch that fancy might dictate, with the handles 
fastened on at almost right angles with it, thus leaving the 
plowman little control over his implement, which did its work 
in a very slow and most imperfect manner." 

The Old Colony plow, as used in the Eastern States as late 
as 1820, had a ten-foot beam and a four-foot landside. "Your 
furrows stand up like the ribs of a lean horse in March. A 
lazy plowman may sit on the beam and coimt every bout of 
his day's work." 

The first American after JeflPerson to advance a real im- 
provement was Charles Newbold, of Burlington, N. J., who 
made the first cast iron plow ever made in America. It was 
cast all in one piece, share, landside, sheath (or standard), and 
moldboard. Cast and wrought iron shares were in use before 
Newbold's invention, but in some way farmers developed the 
notion that the use of cast iron poisoned the land, injured its 
fertility, and promoted the growth of weeds, and Newbold's 
plow was never generally adopted. As late as 1837 farmers in 
New Hampshire clung to this idea. 

Gideon Davis, in 1818, patented a plow built on the lines 
laid down by JeflPerson. He also fastened the coulter to the 
side of the beam instead of perforating the latter. This greatly 
strengthened the beam as compared with the usual practice. 
September 1, 1819, on which date Jethro Wood patented his 
plow, has been set by some as "the natal day of the modem 


plow." He developed in theoiy and worked out in practice 
both the vertical and transverse straight lines of the moldboard 
which had been presented in theoiy by Timothy Pickering, and 
by Thomas Jefferson in practice. He made a light iron plow, 
on which the pressure of the furrow was evenly distributed 
over the surface, so that the wear was equal on all parts. His 
greatest contribution to progress, however, lay in the inter- 
changeability of parts, so that a broken or womout casting 
might be replaced by any farmer. He thus instituted the era 
of plow manufacture, as distinguished from that of plow build- 
ing in small quantities by local carpenters, blacksmiths, and 
plowwrights. To his everlasting credit it may be said that he 
was instrumental in driving out of use thousands of the clumsy 
"Bull" plows in existence. Sadly enough. Wood died a poor 
man. He spent his fortime in protecting his patents. A grant 
of $2000 to his heirs by the New York State Legislature was 
the only substantial compensation growing out of his efforts 
to improve the plow. William H. Seward, Lincoln's Secretary 
of State, said: "No citizen of the United States has conferred 
greater economical benefits on his country than Jethro Wood — 
none of her benefactors have been more inadequately 

Pickering noted that the soil, when adhesive, filled the 
hollow of the moldboard and assumed a straight line from its 
fore end, near the point of the share, to its upper projecting 
hind comer, also that it maintained that same straight line. 
This struck him as proof that this straight line should exist 
in every moldboard as essential to the form giving the least 
resistance. Said he: "No earth can be left on such a mold- 
board; for every succeeding portion of earth which the plow 
raises pushes off that which is on the transverse straight line 
behind it; and the face of the moldboard consists — ^s made up 
(mathematically) — of an infinite number of such transverse 
straight lines." 

Edwin A. Stevens, in 1817, so shaped a moldboard that it 


would take a land polish over its entire surface. He also 
invented a process for cold chilling the base of the landside 
and the lower edge of the share, not knowing that that same 
thing had been done by Ransome, in England. This improve- 
ment lengthened the lifeof these wearing parts. Heniy Burden, 
two years later, constructed a well-shaped plow which was 
widely popular on account of its Ught draft. In 1820, in the 
first recorded dynamometer tests of plows made in New York, 
his plow had a draft of 250 pounds for a ten-inch furrow to 
325 pounds for Jethro Wood's, depth of furrow not stated. 

After buying shares uid moldboards for his plows for a 
number of years, Joel Nourse, of Shrewsbury, Mass., and his 
partners, failed in the manufacture of plows built according to 
Jefferson's principle. Nourse then cut and hammered from 
a sheet of lead a moldboard which he believed would overcome 
the greatest defect in the Jefferson plow — i.e., failure to turn 
the furrow over at all times. In 1842 he brought out the 
Eagle No. 2 plow, which was popular forW any years. The 
moldboard was of greater length than on the majority of 
American plows, and had more twist at the rear than the 
English and Scotch plows. It also approached more closely 
than either to straight lines in a longitudinal direction. With- 
out planning for this result, he found that the extra twist of 
the moldboard pulverized the soil admirably. 

Governor Holbrook of Vermont later assisted Nourse in 
designing plows and devised a system by which, if the longitud- 
inal lines were carefully laid down upon the pattern, the vertical 
lines were sure to be right, no matter what size or shape of 
moldboard was desired. By his method straight lines ran from 
front to rear, and from the sole to the upper parts of mold- 
board and share. None of the lines was parallel, nor yet 
radiating from a common centre. A change in the angle 
formed by any of the transverse lines chuiged the direction 
of the vertical lines also. The surface of the moldboard was 
such that different parts of the furrow slice moved at different 


velocities, a fundamental principle involved in pulverization 
noted by Jethro TuU in his description of the old four-coultered 
Berkshire plow. 

J. Dutcher, of Durham, N. Y., claimed discovery of a valu- 
able principle in relation to the line of draft. He provided his 
landside with "suction" — i.e., an upward curvature of one 
half inch maximum from a straight line drawn from point to 
heel. This allowed the beam of the plow to be set level with 
the base line. The plow would penetrate hard ground as well 
as before, when the fore end of the beam was set high, and, the 
entire sole being more nearly in contact with the bottom of the 
furrow, the plow ran more steadily than when" running on its 
nose." He pointed out that the draft line must be straight 
from the horse's breast to the centre of resistance on the plow, 
and that the point of hitch on the beam must lie within that 
line. He condemned the long beams then in use as tending 
to thrust the hitch forward of the proper line and necessitating 
an upward inclination of the beam to counteract this ten- 
dency. Two feet for hard ground and two feet four inches for 
mellow he regarded as the extreme distances to which the 
beam should extend forward of a perpendicular from the point 
of the share 

John Mears, of the firm of Prouty & Mears, observed about 
1833 that the irregularity in the running of the plows of that 
time was caused to a large degree by the fact that the beam 
was usually set so that the front end lay an inch or two to the 
right of the plane of the landside produced to that point. 
This was done to counteract the tendency of soil pressing on 
the rear of the moldboard to force the plow point away from 
the land. Mears saw that the centre of resistance lay only a 
short distance to the right of the plane of the landside, the 
force required for cutting the vertical wall of the furrow nearly 
balancing the work of the share and moldboard. He inclined 
the landside seven degrees toward the land, leaving the beam 
directly over the point of the share, but parallel throughout 


to the landside, this exactly balancing the resistance on either 
side of the line of draft. The study of the line of draft by 
these men and others who followed resulted in plows of lighter 
draft and easier guidance. 

Daniel Webster, in 1836, planned and constructed a plow 
which had little bearing on the development of plows for farm 
use, but illustrated the possibilities of a single plow bottom 

Daniel Webster's plow 
in the way of deep tillage. It was 12 feet long, with a 15- 
inch share, and a moldboard 4 feet long by 28 inches high. 
The furrow was 12 to 14 inches deep and nearly two feet 
wide, the moldboard having a spread of 18 inches at the 
heel and 27 inches at the tip of the wing. It had an iron 
share and landside forged together, a wooden beam and 
handles, and a wooden moldboard plated with straps of iron. 
Webster made the moldboard along Jefferson's lines with 
certain modifications such as greater relative length and 
overhang. He believed in deep plowing, and the success of 
his plow in a brush-covered pasture may be told in his own 
words: "When I have hold of the handles of my big plow in 
such a field as this, with four yokes of oxen to pull it through, 
and hear the roots crack and see the stumps all go imder the 
furrow, out of sight, and observe the clean, mellowed surface 
of the plowed land, I feel more enthusiasm over my achieve- 
ment than comes from my encounters in public life in 
In 1852 Samuel A. Knox patented a method of forming a 


moldboard on mathematical principles and is given credit for 
being the first to lay down all the lines of a plow on a plane sur- 
face. His plow was of light draft, but pulverized the furrow 
very little, hence did not meet with the approval of the Eastern 
plowmen so well as the same type when later presented to 
prairie farmers. 

In order to bring out the existing merits of the plows and 
ascertain certain principles in design and construction, the New 
York Agricultural Society in 1850 and again in 1867 held 
famous trials which provided a fund of information for inventor, 
maker, and farmer alike. Gould's report of the latter in the 
"Transactions of the New York Agricultural Society" is beUeved 
to be the first attempt at a complete history of plows and a 
discussion of their principles. A larger part of the foregoing 
information has been abstracted from this source. Many 
improvements have been made since then in the materials 
from which plows are constructed, but changes in the shape 
have been in detail rather than principle and need not be 
further reviewed. 

Gould does not mention the progress that had taken place 
in the West in the art of plowmaking, but pioneer inventors 
had met and solved problems which were as great as had been 
encoimtered in the East. The early emigrants to the prairies 
of Illinois and Iowa found new conditions — tough sod, diffi- 
cult soils, and larger areas — imder which their older plows were 
hopelessly inefficient. 

In the colonial period the cultivated land was largely that 
which had been cleared of timber. It was generally porous 
and penetrable, with neither old clay land's tendency to stick 
and bake, nor the mat of living and dead grass, which, above 
and below the surface, harassed the pioneer plowmen of the 
plains. The great variation in the soils of a single New Eng- 
land field made it next to impossible to adjust the plow to the 
nature of the soil, and as a rule cast iron plows scoured well 
enough anyhow. Again, farming was hardly on the commer- 


cial scale which now prevails in the West — rather the home- 
spun type, where, as abeady pointed out, the average farmer 
raised a variety of products for his own use, with a small sur- 
plus to exchange for the few articles of commerce indulged 
in at that time. 

The long, gently curving moldboard, with friction reduced 
to a minimum, enabled the farmer to uproot the stubborn sod 
with the limited power at his disposal, and other tillage im- 
plements were devised to make up for the deficiencies of the 
plow as a pulverizer. The firm, tenacious nature of the sod 
permitted the use of curved wrought iron rods in place of the 
steel moldboard, and many "prairie sod breakers" of this type 
are still used. They are slightly cheaper, and give equally 
good results. As the coimtry grew older, the "timber" soils 
lost their high content of vegetable matter under the careless 
methods of fanning, and complaints were heard regarding the 
scouring in the sticky ground. From the very first the prairie 
sods presented the same problem to the plowmaker. 

It is not known who discovered that a high grade of steel 
would scour under Western conditions, but the first recorded 
construction of a steel plow took place in Chicago in 1833. 
John Lane, the builder, took three lengths of steel cut from an 
old saw to fashion his moldboard, and another for the share. 
All four were fastened to a frame, or anchor wing, which served 
as the shin of the plow. For several years he continued to buy 
up old saws from which to make plows, until he had exhausted 
the supply. Fortunately, he was finally able to secure from 
Pittsburg saw blanks of sufiSicient width so that two were 
enough for a moldboard, and about 1839 or 1840 he obtained 
a special width, rolled twelve inches wide, that, as one writer 
says, "gave quite a boom to the infant industry." 

John Deere, a blacksmith at Grand Detour, 111., built in 
1837 three steel plows, one of which is still in existence. More 
fortunate than Lane, he obtained an old sawmill saw from 
which to form his one-piece share and moldboard. Two 



John Deere's first plow. 18S7 

years later he made ten plows, and their success led him to 
make greater efforts to secure satisfactory material. After 
buying abroad for some time the steel which he could not 

obtain in thiscoimtry either 
in the desired quality or 
quantity, he finally secured 
steel made especially for his 
purpose. James M. Swank, 
in his "History of Iron in 
All Ages," says: "The 
first slab of plow steel 
ever rolled in the United States was rolled by William 
Woods at the steel works of Jones & Quigg, and shipped to 
John Deere in Moline, LI." Deere moved his factory to Mo- 
line in 1847, and two years afterward was making ten thou- 
sand plows annually. His factory still bears his name, 
and, as does also the one established by William Parlin at 
Canton, Bl., in 1842, produces an enormous output of steel 

The credit due these men for the development of steel plows 
must be extended also to John Lane, inventor of soft-centre steel 
and son of the maker of the first steel plow. On September 
16, 1869, he received his patent on a plate consisting of two lay- 
ers of high carbon steel on either side of a soft centre, a material 
which proved easy to temper without warping, and resistant 
to strains in service. In its manufacture a billet of soft steel 
two inches is placed in a mold six inches square and twelve 
inches deep. The high carbon steel is then poured on either 
side simultaneously by hand. Great care must be taken to 
prevent the molten metal from touching the centre billet un- 
til the filling of the mold brings the solid and liquid in contact. 
Complete fusion takes place, and the block is then rolled to 
the proper thickness, retaining an equal depth of the three 
layers. A Mr. Morrison brought out about the same time a 
steel with a soft backing, which was less easy to temper, and 


later a cheaper but rather uncertain process of hard-tempering 
the outer surface to an equal depth was discovered. Lane's 
process, which has been generally adopted, has proved worth 
untold millions to Western farmers in the saving of power, as 
well as the certainty of being able to plow under what has been 
regarded as unfavorable conditions. 

What Lane's invention was to the tiller of the prairie, James 
Oliver's was to the farmer of the Eastern States. From the 
time of Ransome and Stevens efiForts had been made to harden 
the wearing parts, but credit for the practical development 
of the idea is due to Oliver. He began his experiments at 
South Bend, Ind., in 1853, received a patent on the chilling 
process in 1868, and so perfected it near the close of 1873 that 
his name is still inseparably linked with the chilled plow in 
all parts of the world. In the making of the chilled castings, 
iron or low-carbon steel is rim into a mold, the front side of 
which is a metal vessel filled with water. This chiUs the 
molten metal quickly, causing the fibre to nm perpendicular 
to the surface, so that the wearing action on the moldboard is 
like that across the end of a bundle of sticks. The back of 
the casting runs on sand, hence cools more slowly, is less hard, 
and is tougher. An annealing and tempering process renders 
the share and moldboard more resistant to strains. The 
chilled siuface takes a much higher land polish than cast 
iron, hence will scour in more difficult soils. 

The sulky, or wheel, plow has been developed in the last 
thirty or forty years, fully half of which was spent in work 
upon the old style two-wheeled plow. In 1843 T. D Burral, 
of Geneva, N. Y., first used an inclined wheel to reduce the 
friction of the landside, placing it between the latter and the 
moldboard. His plow was not a success, but the idea con- 
tained the germ of the "staggered" wheel now in common 

H. Brown, in 1844, combined several plow bases in a gang 
supported on wheels. E. Goldthwait, in 1851, patented a 


fore carriage — i.e., a two-wheeled frame supporting a plow 
not unlike the usual walking plow — and two years later C. R. 
Brinckerho£f patented a similar construction. Several patents 
on gangs, including that of Aaron Smith, preceded the patent 
issued to M. Furley in 1856 on a sulky plow with one base. 
Numerous other patents followed rapidly, but the first suc- 
cessful riding plow was a gang plow patented by F. S. Daven- 
port February 9, 1864. During the'^same year Robert Newton, 
of Jerseyville, 111., converted one of these gangs into a three- 
horse plow, changing the position of the tongue, adding a 
three-horse evener and a rolling coulter. His plow had a 
wide sale in the next few years. 

A single-bottom sulky plow was patented in 1856 by 
M. Furley. Gilpin Moore, in 1875, and W. L. Cassaday, 
the following year, received patents on sulky plows and 
continued for many years to make improvements. The 
latter was the first to remove the landside entirely and use a 
wheel in its place, the wheel running in the angle of the fur- 
row at an inclination of nearly forty-five degrees from the per- 
pendicular. In 1884 G. W. Hunt patented the first of the 
three-wheeled riding plows that are now universal. One 
inclined wheel ahead in the old furrow, and one following in 
the new, "hug" the furrow wall and hold the plow steady with- 
out the use of a fixed tongue, thus greatly relieving the strain 
upon the horses. 

Many other inventors since have contributed improvements 
in detail, but aside from combining sulky plows into gang 
plows of two or more bottoms no radical innovations have 
come about since the work of the men already mentioned. 
Moore, Oliver, and others adapted the shape of the moldboard 
to countless soil conditions, until several hundred shapes are 
now made by each of the largest factories. The unit horse- 
drawn plow once perfected, the combraation into gangs has 
been a much simpler problem. Invention, largely through 
Americans, has again reached that stage with regard to the 


moldboard plow for animal power where it seems impossible 
to secure greater perfection. American plow-builders are 
shipping their product by the millions annually to the newly 

Suction of the plow — downward. 

developing fields of Canada, Russia, the Argentine, to Mexico, 
Spain, Australia, France, England, even to the cradle of the 
modem plow — Scotland itself. 
"^ While the majority of inventors were devoting their atten- 
tion to the moldboard plow, a few developed the disk plow, 
largely with the idea of reducing the draft caused by the slid- 
ing friction of the moldboard. In this they were only par- 
tially successful, if at all, but they succeeded in producing a plow 
which would work well under extreme conditions. Professor 
Davidson, of Iowa State College, covers the essential consid- 
erations thus: "In soils where the moldboard plow will do 
good work there is nothing to be gained by the use of the disk 
plow. The draft is often heavier for the amount of work done 
and the plow itself is more climosy than the other form. How- 
ever, in sticky soils, where the moldboard will not scour, the 
disk plow can often be made to do good work. Again, in very 
hard ground, where it is impossible to plow with the mold- 


board plow, the disk will work, and apparently with much 
less draft. The manufacturers of both disk and moldboard 
plows are now recommending generally the use of the latter 
for soils where it does good work. " This opinion is supported 
by that of other prominent agricultural engineers, and may be 
accepted as presenting adequately the adaptation of the two 

One of the earliest patents in disk plows was granted to 
M. A. and I. M. Cravath, of Bloomington, HI. Their plow 
consisted of three disks, each cutting a narrow strip, and proved 
that the principle could be appUed in practice. It was defec- 
tive in means for coimteracting the side pressure. J. K. Under- 
wood obtained several patents, including one for a three-wheeled 
frame. D. H. Lane proposed to keep the plow in line with 
the furrow by a wheel running in the rear of the disk. M. T. 
Hancock finally succeeded in making the disk plow practical, 
and it now has a wide popularity in sections where condi- 
tions favor its use. 

The development of engine gang plows, which was the 
logical outgrowth of the extension of traction plowing, has 
largely taken place since the beginning of the twentieth cen- 
tury. The introduction of a new source of motive power 
involved the plowmaker in new difficulties. The hitching of 
modem horse plows behind engines resulted in outfits as crude 
and imwieldy as oxen and the "Bull" plows of a century pre- 
vious. Fortunately, Yankee invention, sharpened by com- 
petition, aided by marvelous manufacturing equipment, and 
directed by the far-seeing eyes of up-to-date sales and experi- 
mental organizations, was quicker to respond to the new need, 
and in less than a decade the plow has again caught up with 
the motive power in its state of perfection. 

No one man can be given credit for any important step in 
the development of the engine gang: it was rather the work of 
many minds, impressed all at once with a new, swift-arising 
situation. The early tyi)es were of inflexible construction,^ 


several plow bottoms held rigidly in a single frame. These 
were more compact, each gang cutting three to six furrows, 
but, besides being heavy to throw out of the ground, they 
failed to adapt themselves to uneven surfaces. Combination 
of these units into loads for the largest engines presented 
difficulties in the way of suitable hitches. Steam-lift plows 
solved the one difficulty, and were even more compact. They 
were too expensive, however, and have quite largely given way 
to hand-lift types embodying their compactness, but much 
more simple in construction. To-day the latter stand represen- 
tative of the highest type of agricultural implement. 

From the war club of the first true agriculturist to the steel 
plow of to-day is a step which embraces all the history of civ- 
ilization. From development of the human muscle, which 
gave power to the Egyptian sarcle, to the mighty engines which 
draw our modem gang plow is a far wider step. No less is 
the gap between the plow factory of to-day and the laborious 
task of the savage who first shaped a pointed weapon by rub- 
bing one stick upon another or a stone. The history of man in 
all ages records the utilization of the highest opportunities 
within his grasp. The plow has advanced only as the ac- 
cumulation of knowledge has taught what should be its shape, 
as instruments and materials for shaping it have developed, 
and as blind superstition and ignorant prejudice have with- 
drawn their opposition to progress. The sarcle, refined into 
the form still in use, affords a subject for a painting like Millet's 
"The Spaders," or "The Man with the Hoe." In a modem 
commonwealth the ancient breast plow, driven by a weary 
toiler of the soil, still bears occasional aid to the sustenance of 
mankind. But these are only the exceptional, the enforced, 
variations from the rule. The modem plow has wrested an 
abundance from the soil. Animals harnessed to it have freed 
the peasant from the heaviest of all tasks, and given him 
leisiure to advance in knowledge. The world now rests in 
confident anticipation of the farm's certain surplus. Civili- 


zation and the plow have gone together, and whatever advance- 
ment of humankind we may look forward to will surely be 
paralleled by perfection now imattained in that noblest of 
instruments. Fitting it is that the United States Government 
should place the plow prominently on the great seal of its 
Department of Agriculture. 


ONLY a small percentage of all the thousands of pat- 
ented plow forms remain in use, yet the variations in 
modem plows are so great as to render a complete 
classification next to impossible. The essential 
features, however, are well defined. Plows for use with 
animal power may first be divided into walking and riding, 
the latter including sulky and gang plows. The single mold- 
board plow is the most common, though double moldboard, 
reversible, and two-way plows are made for special purposes. 
Cast iron or steel, Bessemer steel, soft centre steel, chilled iron, 
wrought steel, malleable iron, and wood aU enter into the con- 
struction, and various attachments added to the essential 
features multiply the possible combinations. 

The featiures of the single moldboard are landside, frog, brace, 
beam, clevis, handles, and coulter. The share forms the 
horizontal cutting edge and joins the moldboard to form the 
"shin," which cuts the land vertically. The -point is the part 
which first enters the ground, and the heel or wing is the outer 
extremity of the cutting edge. The share is sometimes welded 
to the landside bar and called a "bar" share. Otherwise it 
is called a "slip" share. The "sock" share, a very old style 
which is still used largely on English and Scotch models, fits 
over a tongue on the lower end of the moldboard. One type 
is known as a "slip nose" or "cutter" share, in which the share 
and shin are cast in one piece. This protects the moldboard, 
and when worn may be renewed at less cost than the latter. 




A separate shin piece is provided on some types. The share 
and landside are often made of cast iron or soft, natural temper 
steel on the cheaper plows, but often of hardened soft-centre 



Parts of a plow 

or chilled steel. The cast share is more apt to break imder a 
strain, but wears longer. It is often used with a steel mold- 
board in sandy soils, combining the cheapness and wearing 


qualities of the former with the lightness and elasticity of the 
latter. Some share points, as well as the shin of the moldboard 
and the heel of the landside, are reinforced with extra material 
on account of the heavy wear on those places. To avoid the 
rapid narrowing of the furrow as the heel wears away some 
shares are given a truncated (blunt) heel, the edge of which 
is almost parallel to the landside. 

The moldboard receives the furrow from the share and turns 
it. Its shape has been and will be discussed elsewhere. The 
landside counteracts the side pressure caused by the cutting 
and turning of the furrow. Most plows are given "suction" — 
i.e., the lower face of the landside is raised in the middle from 
a straight line drawn from point to heel. This is to cause the 
plow to enter the soil easily and run at the proper depth in spite 
of the lift by the traces on the end of the beam. The suction 
is usually about one eighth of an inch, being increased for hard 
ground and often dispensed with entirely in light soils. 

The cast shoe, or heel plate, often used under a steel landside 
saves wear and affords the necessary bearing surface. It is 
adjustable as to width, as required for different soils, and for 
depth, so that as the plow point wears off the heel can be raised 
to keep the plow in the groimd. In addition to the downward 
suction the landside is usually made concave by turning the 
point of the share outward from one eighth to three eighths 
of an inch. This is for the purpose of making the plow "take 
land" — i. e., cut full width. The effect of these deviations from 
a straight line between point and heel is to increase the draft, 
as more power must be applied to overcome the tendency of 
the plow to run toward the land and deeper. The plow runs 
less steadily, the motion being a succession of jumps, the effect 
of which may be seen on the bottom of the furrow, and the 
presence of concavity on either face of the landside is really a 
confession of wrong adjustment to the plow. Prof. J. W. 
Sanborn, who, next to Gould, has probably made more draft 
tests of plows than any other man, found the dipping of the 


point on the base to cause about 9 per cent, increase in draft 
and the angUng of the point on the landside about 16 
per cent, increase. Mr. Sanborn made trials of the same plow 
before and after changing the shape, also of a new plow from 
which the angles had been removed. 

The lessening of draft by slanting the share and shin of 
the plow has caused the opinion that inclining the landside 
also reduces the draft by giving a drawing cut. The fallacy 
of this is apparent when it is remembered that angles in but 
two planes are possible to the line of direction. The plow meets 
the earth squarely and the beveling of the landside does not 
tend to reduce the draft. It does, however, tend to equalize 
the motion of the plow, as shown in Mears's invention, and it 
has the further effect of giving a diamond-shaped furrow which 
will topple over of its own weight when the width and breadth 
of a furrow are nearly equal. Ox plows of the present day are 
also made with beveled landside, because the slow motion of 
the oxen does not give enough velocity to the furrow to throw 
it over without an extreme twist to the moldboard. Land- 
sides are of different heights, the highest being used for stubble 
plows, on account of the depth of furrow. 
— ~% The ^Tog is the foundation to which the landside, share, 
and moldboard are fastened. It may be made of cast iron or 
wrought steel. Connection may be by removable bolts and 
rivets, or a soUd weld. The hrace separates the landside and 
share and holds them rigidly. The heam, connects the plow 
bottom with the hitch. Wooden beams are rapidly giving 
way to steel, owing to the scarcity of suitable timber. The 
wooden beam is hghter, and while more easily broken than 
steel is more elastic and will spring back into place after a 
severe strain, so that the adjustment of the plow will not be 
disturbed. They are more cumbersome, however, and at a 
disadvantage in trashy ground. The more expensive steel 
beams are composed of 60 to 80 point carbon steel as com- 
pared to 30 or 40 point for the cheaper beams. The lower 


grade is cheaper to manufacture, not only because the cost 
of materials is less but because more labor and equipment are 
required for handling the higher carbon steel. The softer 
metal has a coarse grain which becomes fractured if a beam is 
spnmg. Even if straightened it will easily bend again at the 
same point. The higher quality of steel is more elastic and 
can be restored again to its original condition. 

A low, rather straight beam, curved to join the plow bottom, 
is used on prairie breakers. On stubble plows the beam is 
usually higher and has greater curvature, so as to clear the 
trash and weeds. For stubble plowing in very hard ground 
a high beam with a goose neck is necessary to keep the plow 
in the ground. On wooden beam plows and on some gang 
plows where a perfectly straight beam is used a cast standard 
sometimes connects the beam with the share, moldboard, and 
landside, taking the place of the frog. The higher the beam 
the greater the possible adjustment as to depth and the greater 
the ease with which a rolling coulter can be used. 

The clevis, or bridle, as it was formerly called, is provided 
'or connecting the plow beam with the eveners. It is made 
so that the plow may be adjusted for depth and width simply 
by changing the position of the pins in the clevis. The handles, 
which are usually fastened to the beam and the moldboard 
or the frog, are provided for the use of the plowman in lifting 
and guiding the plow. The modem plow, however, should 
run easily with very little guiding by tiie operator. Handles 
are usually of wood, although steel is being used to an increas- 
ing extent, .^he coulter, or cutter, is provided to aid in severing 
the furrow slice from the land. It may be fastened to the 
landside of the share, extending upward out of the ground, in 
which case it is known as & fin coulter. This type is quite 
efficient for breaking sod, but much less so for stubble plowing. 
The coulter may extend downward from the plow beam, the 
other end either fastened to the plowshare or left free. A 
plow thus rigged with standing cutter requires special knowledge 


and care in order to secure the best results. This is because 
the set of the cutter alone may be made to ruin the work of 
the plow by guiding it to take too much or too little land in spite 
of any change of hitch at the clevis. The rule is to set a stand- 
ing coidter as if it had no thickness. Whenever the plowman 
finds that it is leading the plow, which will be indicated by the 
plow's swinging climbing, and running unsteadily, he will 
find the remedy by adjusting it to or from the land, as 
reqiiired, by means of wedges under the shank. The 
rolling coulter is usually connected to the plow beam by a 
Bwivel shank aond socket, being kept in line by the resistance of 
the soil. 

A form of coulter known as the jointer consists of a minia- 
ture plow which is adjusted to the beam forward of the point 
of the share. This cuts a small ribbon-like furrow which is 
thrown in the bottom of the larger one and thus does away with 
the fringe of grass or weeds which might otherwise project 
above the plowed field. Where the soil is apt to drift, as on 
the Great Plains, this fringe is desirable, as it catches and holds 
the soil and snow. In the Eastern and Central States, where 
these conditions do not ejdst, the jointer is popular because of 
the burying of aU vegetation, and because it enables a rather 
deep furrow to be completely inverted. 

Among the useful attachments to plows is the harrow attach- 
ment, which may be attached to the rear and usually to the 
right of the plows on sulky and gang types. It may be com- 
posed of solid disks, knives, or propeller-like sections. By pul- 
verizing the soil immediately it requires little power as com- 
pared with the harrowing done later. It also checks any loss 
of moisture by at once covering the soil with a dust mulch. 
Another is the fore carriage for walking plows adopted from 
France. This consists of a furrow wheel, a grotmd wheel of 
somewhat less diameter, a connecting crossbar, and means 
whereby the depth can be adjusted. This takes the place of 
the gang wheel and to some extent aids in regulating the width 


of furrow. The plow is made easier to guide in hard ground, 
with more even plowing as a result. 

The plow bottom is composed of the moldboard, share, brace, 
frog, and landside. Stubble and breaker bottoms are usually 
made interchangeable, so that on sulky and gang plows the 
same frame may be used for different purposes. Riding plows 
have usually three wheels, the larger of which nms upon the 
unplowed ground. There are two wheels with inclined axles, 
one running in the old and one in the new furrow. These take 
the place of the landside in guiding the plow. The plow beam 
is attached to the frame by means of bails, and suitable levers 
are provided to adjust the depth of plowing. The width is 
adjusted by a lever which changes the direction of the furrow 
wheels. Nearly all sulky and gang plows are provided with 
frames and nearly all have tongues by means of which the 
plow can be steered and backed. 

Gang plows are simply combinations of sulky plows, al- 
though the sulky plow usually has a wider bottom than the 
gang. Sixteen inches for the sulky plow and fourteen inches for 
the gang are the most common, although twelve-inch and 
eighteen-inch bottoms are to be had. The variation in plow 
shapes has already been touched upon. The moldboard is 
of course the most important source of variation. The short, 
steep, sharply curving moldboard is used in the stubble plow, 
and the low, narrow, gently curving type for the prairie breaker. 
The intermediate plows are adapted to different soils and 
different conditions. One experienced plow designer says 
that with the exception of the necessary graduation from one 
extreme to the other the minor differences in shape are due 
almost entirely to local whims. To a large extent these dif- 
ferences are recognized by the larger manufacturers. In many 
sections, however, farmers persistently cling to some shape 
which by reason of its extreme localization is not profitable 
for the large manufacturer to dally with. This accoimts for 
the existence in many out of way places of small plow 


factories or even an occasional old-time plowwright. Plows 
with wooden moldboards are still made in various parts of 
the South. 

The designer, before referred to, says that it is a curious 
thing in plow adaptation that where one shape will work ad- 
mirably one season it will not work at all the next year under 
apparently the same conditions. There will be a vast difference 
in scouring, with nothing to account for it except that the action 
of the winter may produce physical and chemical changes in 
the soil to affect the efficiency of the plow. 



THE ideal engine gang plow has not as yet been devel- 
oped, but one or more of the essentials have been 
realized in every principal type yet offered. It must 
be compact, strong, durable, simple, easily manip- 
ulated, cheap, light of draft, and, above all, efficient. 
Analyzed as a plow for mechanical power, the horse plow is 
desirable only on account of its cheapness and light draft. 

In the early stages of steam plowing, however, devices for 
hitching horse plows to the engine necessarily received a great 
deal of attention. Besides the cumbersome webs of chain and 
cable which were developed, some so-called plow hitches were 
brought out. One of these which had a considerable sale was 
a combination of tender and plow frame. A shallow, triangular 
water tank was hitched with the base toward the engine, and 
the horse plows were attached to the rear or oblique side of 
the tank. The development of plowing engines with larger 
tank capacity and the introduction of more suitable plows 
rendered this makeshift unnecessary. 

Practically all traction plowing is now done with specially 
designed engine gang plows. Both disk and moldboard types 
are made in large numbers. They present a great variation in 
size and in the features that distinguish them from horse plows. 
In the main they are very satisfactory, and to their develop- 
ment, quite as much as to the improvement in tractors, may be 
attributed the rapid advance during the decade in plowing by 
mechanical power. 



Moldboard engine gangs may be divided into hand-lift and 
power-lift types. Those of the hand-lift type may again be 
divided in two general classes: 

(1) With bottoms combined into a rigid frame, which is 
raised and lowered as unit by one lever. 

(2) With bottoms attached either singly or in pairs to one 
independent frame, each bottom or pair of bottoms being 
controlled by a separate lever. 

The former are known as "solid" gangs and the latter as 
"flexible hitch" gangs. The term "flexible," however, is used 
also to distinguish from a rigid frame of the latter type one 
which is jointed to adapt it to work in uneven ground. Engine 
gang plows, especially the flexible types, are usuaUy more effi- 
cient than horse plows. The point of hitch is lower, and the 
distance from the point of hitch to the centre of resistance 
greater. The line of draft is thus more nearly parallel with 
the base line and there is less loss of power through the opposi- 
tion of forces. From the point of hitch on the drawbar to 
the centre of resistance of an engine gang plow is frequently 
from twelve to eighteen feet, with a descent of oidy eighteen 
to twenty inches. From the point of a horse's shoulder to 
the ground is about fifty inches, and from that point to the 
centre of resistance only eleven or twelve feet; hence there is 
greater tendency to lift the point of the plow from its true posi- 
tion. This tendency must be overcome by giving it, either 
through suction or the curvature of the beam, a natural inch- 
nation to run into the ground. The more nearly the centre of 
resistance moves along the line of draft the more easily the 
plow will "swim," and the fewer will be the undulations left 
on the bottom of the furrow from jumping. Unfortu- 
nately, the majority of engine gang, plowmakers seem to 
have overlooked this point and simply transferred Hie horse- 
plow bottom to the engine gang without correcting the 
unnatural, but perhaps necessary, curvature of beam and 


Where a number of furrows are plowed at once, as with 
the engine gang, they are more uniform. Only the outside 
furrow will vary in width provided the plows are given and 
hold their proper adjustment. The bottoms tend to hold each 
other in line, especially if provided with buflFers which allow 
free play vertically and but a slight amount sidewise. Fre- 
quently, however, the connection between beam and plow 
frame is weak, and where no other means is provided for pre- 
serving the alignment, the furrows cut by the same sized bot- 
toms will vary several inches in width. The depth of furrow 
should be, and usually is, quite constant, with the flexible 
plows; hence a more uniform seed bed is secured than where 
several rounds are made with horse plows in covering the 
same ground. Especially is this true if several teamsters, each 
with his own idea of plowing, are working in the same field. 

Engine plows are made heavier and stronger in beam and 
standard than those for horses, since an engine will not, of 
itself, stop in time to avert damage to the plows in case of 
a solid obstruction. The bulk of the extra weight lies in the 
frame, however, which must span a wider interval, yet remain 
absolutely rigid between pouits of support. A common walking 
plow weighs about 125 lbs., a sulky plow about 375 lbs., and a 
two-furrow horse gang about 325 lbs., per bottom. A solid 
engine gang weighs 350 to 450 lbs. per bottom, and the large 
flexible hitch gangs 600 to 800 lbs. The additional weight 
of frame is carried on rather small, though broad, wheels, 
which largely overcome the advantage secured in engine gang 
by changing the line of draft. 

Something of the added cost of constructing engine plows 
is shown by the following relative prices: A walking plow 
costs from $10 to $16; and a sulky, $30 to $35. A two-furrow 
gang costs from $25 to $30 per bottom; a disk-engine gang plow 
about $30; a solid moldboard engine gang about $40; a large 
flexible hitch gang about $75; and a steam-lift plow $100 to 
$125 per bottom. 



The solid gang is ordinarily made with from three to six 
bottoms, with provision for removing one bottom to adapt the 
plow to harder service. The width of cut is from twelve to 
sixteen inches for each share, fourteen inches being the most 
common. The largest size of bottom is often chosen on ac- 
count of greater clearance between bottoms, fewer beams, etc., 
and the less time required to change shares for a given total 
width of furrow. Plows of this type usually consist of an open 
framework, which is made up of the beams, braces, and tie 
bars; three or four carrying wheels, the rear one of which is 
sometimes replaced by a shoe; three or four levers for regulat- 
ing the depth, steering and lifting the plow; the plow bottoms; 
and either rolling or fine coulters. Sometimes a seat attachment 
may be included, also a footboard for the operator. More 
often, however, he is obUged to walk behind the plows to 
manipulate the levers. 

Right-hand plows are universal. The bottoms are set 
obUquely from right to left to afford clearance between the 
landside of one and the share of the next. The rear wheel or 
shoe on a rigid gang usuaUy runs in the last furrow next the 
land and the right-hand forward wheel in the last furrow of 
the previous round. The furrow wheels may be inclined, 
or staggered, to offset side thrust, and all the wheels are some- 
times flanged to prevent side sUppage. Where four wheels 
are used the weight is more evenly distributed than on three, 
but in uneven ground four points of contact more frequently 
disturb the eveimess of depth. The depth may be regulated 
by an axle bent in the form of a crank or by raising and lowering 
the frame on an upright extension of the axle. The levers 
extend to the rear, where no running board is provided. They 
are usually of steel, made long, to facilitate lifting. Lifting 
springs also aid in overcoming the weight. For transport. 




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the plow points may be raised from five to twelve inches on 
diflEerent makes. Castered wheels on one type make it easily 
possible to trail several sections one behind the other for 
passage through narrow openings. 

Since in these rigid gangs the bottoms are held rigidly, irregu- 
larities of the groimd surface cause the furrows to be of 
uneven depth, some plows running deep and others skimming 
or skipping entirely. An obstruction before one plow lifts 
several out at one time, and an accident to one may put the 
entire set out of conuuission. For these reasons the smaller 
sizes of three to five bottoms are more popular than the larger, 
even though the latter are more compact. On one type each 
bottom is held in place by a device which allows it to be thrown 
upward without damage in case it strikes a stone or root. 
While in service, however, the bottoms are prevented from 
adapting themselves to uneven surfaces. 

For small tractors soUd gangs of lighter construction and 
adapted to either horse or engine hitch are often used singly. 
For larger engines it is necessary to combine several plow units. 
Cables, rods, and chains are used to hitch them behind the 
engines, the hitch usually being devised to fit the particular 
case in hand. Where an engine is not equipped with a wide 
plowing drawbar, it is necessary to attach the cables or chains 
to a crossbar and thus hitch to the centre of the engine. Since 
the wheels of each gang must clear those of the one preceding, 
the combination of from one to four units renders the outfit 
long and unwieldy. This is especially true if, for the sake 
of flexibility, small gangs are used. The long cables are apt 
to become fouled in turning to the right, aiid in plowing around 
corners strips between the gangs are usually left unplowed. 
Castered wheels and a special coupling device on one type are 
claimed to render the outfit capable of turning in either direc- 
tion and plowing perfectly around comers, the total width of 
cut being reduced of course on the turn. 

The practice of combining plow bottoms in a rigid gang has 


now been practically discarded, especially for large power units. 
On the Pacific Coast, however, the large ranchers still use 
many Stockton gangs, these being cheap and fairly effective 
modifications of the moldboard gangs. On a triangular wooden 
frame are fixed from three to eight rigid iron standards, each 
heading a reversible plow shape. Each plow cuts a furrow 
eight to ten inches wide and of shallow depth, stirring, rather 
than turning, the soil. This plow was originally designed as 
a cultivator, but has been adopted as an engine gang plow by 
large land owners who adhere to the exploitive type of farming. 
With the large engines used in that section, a strip thirty to 
forty feet wide is often plowed at one time and as high as 
ninety to one hundred acres skimmed in one day. The result- 
ing outfits are unwieldy, and will imdoubtedly give way also 
to those using larger and more compact plow units, with the 
capacity for deeper and better plowing. 


The flexible hitch moldboard gangs range in size from four 
to sixteen bottoms. The smallest frames are made Ughter for 
use with small tractors, and some are arranged to use from four 
to six bottoms according to the nature of the soil. The six- 
teen-bottom size is made only for extremely light soils. Ordi- 
narily the frames are made to accommodate from six to twelve 
bottoms, with an extension providing for one or two more if 

The hand-lift gangs consist of frame, carrying wheels, plat- 
form, plow bottoms, levers, hitches, gauge wheels, and coulters. 
The frame is triangular in general outline, built up of steel 
parts, which are solidly trussed and riveted into a rigid whole. 
The large gangs are sometimes made with flexible frames, 
which adapt themselves to uneven groimd. On several of 
these the frame is made up of two sections, each of which may 
be converted into a separate frame for use with a smaller engine. 


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A solid wooden platform, iisually laid on in sections, covers 
the frame and affords ample room for the operator, a toolbox 
and miscellaneous supplies. Usually it extends far enough 
forward so one may step to it from the engine. 

The carrying wheels are about 25 inches in diameter, with 
tires from 6 to 8 inches wide. Jn some types three wheels are 
used, one near each point of the triangle. On others four are 
used, two on either side. In this case one wheel on the right 
side follows the frame. The objection already mentioned as to 
four points of contact is perhaps less forcible in a flexible hitch 
plow, but in uneven ground the running of the plows is affected 
nevertheless. One three-wheeled type has a wheel at the 
rear comer, one on the right side behind the oblique tie bar, 
and one in the centre in front, thus practically reversing the 
usual triangle. The front wheels on nearly all types are 
castered to facilitate tumiag, and in one case all four are 
pivoted. One plow has two caster-wheels on the left-hand 
side, connected with a steering lever. By this means the plow 
can be turned in less radius than the engine and backed into 
any desired position with the help of a stiff pushbar. For 
breaking in rough ground long skids are sometimes used advan- 
tageously in place of wheels as they cause the frame to run 
more nearly level. 

The shares and moldboards vary according to the soil in 
which they are to be used, but depart little or none at all from 
horse-plow shapes. This accounts largely for the adoption 
of a low speed of travel on plowing tractors. The beams are 
longer than on horse plows, in order to give the clearance neces- 
sary in trashy ground. One type, especially constructed as a 
general purpose plow, combines a long beam, a high standard, 
and no landside, minimizing the danger of choking. For 
breaking sod the beam might be set quite low without difficulty 
from choking, but this interferes with the use of a rolling coulter. 
For stubble plowing and "backsetting" (turning back a layer 
of sod with an extra inch or so of dirt on top of it) the high 


beam and rolling coulter are essential. Otherwise the loose 
trash and sod will gather ahead of the shin and throw the 
plow out of the ground. 

The beam may be arched and connected directly to the frog, 
or straight, in which case a heavy casting usually serves as a 
standard. The casting is shaped so as to form, with the straight 
beam, a curved throat that will clean easily. If broken it may 
be replaced by any one, and the straight beam, if bent, may 
have its alignment restored by any blacksnuth. A spnmg 
beam will destroy the adjustment of the plow, and without the 
factory equipment it is practically impossible to restore a 
curved beam to its original shape. These conditions have 
led to the adoption of the straight beam on most plows of this 
type. One plow has provision for replacing one of the bolts 
connecting the beam and standard with a wooden pin. Where 
solid obstructions are met, the breaking of the pin prevents 
damage to the plow bottom. In straight-beam plows a double 
beam is customary, the two bars being spread apart in front 
to give as wide a hitch as possible and thus brace the beam 
against side strains. 

The bottoms are now commonly hitched independently or 
arranged in independent pairs, thus being free to follow the 
irregularities of the ground. When the plows are hitched 
singly they follow the ground more closely than those in pairs. 
They require quicker work at the levers at the end of the field, 
but with the same care will leave the headland more even. 
One type has bottoms hitched independently and raised in pairs. 
The single-hitch plows have each a trifle more weight than the 
double hitch to keep them in the ground, but have a narrower 
space between clevises at the point of hitch hence are more 
apt to dodge or "wing" — i.e., tilt to one side. The plows 
tend to balance each other in the double-hitch type. The single- 
bottom plow is less seriously affected by an accident to one 
unit. All imits, single or double, of the same make, are inter- 
changeable, save perhaps where one or more of the beams 


straddles a canying wheel; hence the damaged part may easily 
be replaced by an extra bottom or by moving the rear one into 
its place. Li the latter case, the gang is complete, lacking 
only one furrow. For ground of varying hardness the single- 
hitch plow offers the nicer adjustment of load to power, though 
a single-bottom attachment is now provided by means of 
which the double-hitch gang is made more adjustable. Either 
is far more adaptable than the soUd gang of three or four 
bottoms, and much more compact in sizes for large tractors. 

The long lifting levers project forward, and are controlled 
from the platform. Springs aid the operator in lifting. One 
plow has adjustments whereby all the levers may be focused 
near the centre of the platform, saving steps in handling. 
The gang is nearly always hitched to the engine by chains, 
either crossed or straight, considerable adjustment being pro- 
vided. This adapts it to either a high or low drawbar, and 
brings the plows, if necessary, to the right of the engine centre, 
so that the tractor wheels need not travel on plowed ground. 
The attachment of beam to frame needs to be adjustable as 
to depth only, since the engine hitch controls the width of the 
outside finrow and all others are uniform. A bolt and upright 
clevises are common, also various spring hitches. One of the 
latter releases a pair of bottoms in case of a solid obstruction. 
Another allows the plow to be wrenched sidewise without 
springing the beam, while in case of a solid obstruction the gauge 
wheel is drawn forward and the plow is lifted until the strain 
is released. For the double-bottom hitch a separate clevis is 
provided for each beam. 

The depth of plowing is regulated by the lifting levers, 
ratchets, and gauge wheels, as well as by the height of the 
hitch to the plow frame. Adjustable stops attached to the 
ratchets enable the plowman to return the plows quickly to 
the proper depth after lifting at the headland or elsewhere. 
On straight-beam plows the adjustment for suction is usually 
by means of a set screw, which changes the angle between beam 


and standard. A set screw at the fore end of the beam also 
secures this suction, but at the same time lifts the heel of the 
share and causes it to cut at less depth than the point. Set 
screws are commonly used on the fore end of the beams to 
secure parallel alignment and to level up the bottoms. One 
recent design has a device by which the sole of the plow is 
claimed to be kept level at all depths. 

The depth or gauge wheel is a vital point in the design 
of the plow for efficiency. It acts as a fulcrum for the lifting 
of the plow and carries the weight of one or two bottoms in 
moving from place to place. It should be large, so that minor 
irregularities of the surface will not be transmitted to the 
furrow. This is particularly desirable in backsetting. At 
the same time the wheel should be so attached as to allow deep 
plowing in stubble. It should be located so as not to twist 
the beam and cause one side of the furrow to be deeper than 
the other. It should protect the point of the share. It should 
not interfere with the rolling coulter, which by common con- 
sent is placed just to the left of the shin of the plow, and just 
high enough to clear the shin in swinging. It must not clog 
up with trash and dirt. 

The kind and position of gauge wheel best complying with 
these essentials is an open question. The solid cast wheel 
without flanges is successful in avoiding trash. The castered 
wheel is used on a few types, being kept in line by earth resis- 
tance. Its greatest advantage Ues in the fact that in turning 
or on striking uneven surfaces it is free to swing and follow 
without skidding. This relieves the twisting strain on the 
beam caused by the fixed wheel when bearing heavily on one 
edge of its rim. On the other hand, with both coulter and 
depth wheel castered, interference is more likely. 

If the depth wheel is placed directly under a beam of ordi- 
nary clearance, or between two closely connected bars of 
a straight-beam plow, either it must be too small for general 
work or it cannot be raised high enough for deep plowing. A 
height of beam of from twenty to twenty-two and one half 


inches is provided on the present plows, and practice has shown 
that gauge wheels should be at least twelve, preferably four- 
teen or sixteen, inches in diameter. Some allowance must 
be made for hummocks; hence this construction is apt to limit 
the depth, except in breaking. If placed far to one side of 
the beam to secure greater depth, or too far forward in order 
to clear the coulter, it fails to protect the point of the plow. 
In the forward position the shortening of the radius between 
it and the hitch increases the difference in elevation between 
point and heel of share and causes steps between one furrow 
and the next. This is generally objected to by prairie farmers, 
though, as previously noted, a truncated furrow is desired by 
Scotch farmers as being sharper in outline. A more serious 
objection is that in the advanced position the wheel exagger- 
ates irregularities of the surface, and the sole of the furrow is 
imeven. Moreover, with the added distance between the centre 
of resistance and the gauge wheel, the presstire of the latter 
on the ground is greatly increased, together with the draft. 
On the double-hitch type a fixed gauge wheel is placed be- 
tween the plows to the side of one point and considerably ahead 
of the other. While this permits of high lift and deep plowing, 
it does not offer equal protection to both plows. Not being 
placed in line between the two centres of resistance, it acts as 
a fulcrum for two lever arms of unequal length, and subjects 
the beams to severe twisting strains. On the single-hitch 
plows a wheel set too far to one ^de of the landside plane 
has a similar effect. Granting that the rolling coulter's posi- 
tion just above and to left of the plow point allows of little 
variation, the most practical position for the gauge wheel 
seems to be as little to the right of the centre of resistance as 
is necessary for clearing the beam in deep plowing, and as nearly 
opposite the point of the share as will allow trash to pass freely. 
It has even been suggested that the coulter and depth wheel 
might be combined to advantage, the former to consist of a 
sharp flange attached to the side of the wheel, which in this 


case would run directly in front of the plow point. The idea 
would of course be impracticable for travelling on hard or 
sticky ground, but it illustrates well the conflicting require- 


Steam-lift plows differ from the large hand-lift gangs in that, 
in place of a platform and lifting levers, they are equipped with 
steam cylinders for lifting the plows. Steam is fed from the 
engine through flexible connections and the plow may be con- 
trolled by the engineer without his leaving the cab. From 
four to six plows are lifted by each cylinder, which operates a 
boom attached by short chains to the plows. Some types can 
be backed into position for turning a square comer by means 
of a steering wheel connected by crossed cables with the front 
axle of the engine. If one of the enginemen can be spared 
occasionally to look after the plows in case of trouble, the 
plowman may be dispensed with entirely. Owing to the 
added cost of manufacture, the use of the steam-lift feature 
has been confined to the larger sizes of from eight to twelve 
bottoms. The steam-Uft plow uses considerably more coal 
and water, is more complicated than the hand-lift, takes longer 
to attach and detach, and exposes operators to the danger of 
being biuned on hot steam pipes. With the coming of the 
large hand-lift gang several manufacturers abandoned the 
steam-lift feature, but various types of power-lift plows, includ- 
ing steam-lift, are constantly being brought forth with a view 
to reducing the labor of attendants. A simple and inexpensive 
device which would eliminate the plow attendant is demanded 
by the trade, especially in the sections where small tractors 
prove the most useful. 


Disk-engine gangs are made in sizes of from three to twelve 
disks. The smaller sizes lack compactness, and the larger 


are not well adapted to uneven ground. The disk gang in 
itself is necessarily rigid, since any vibration of the frame 
under load gives the plows a jumping motion which results in 
uneven plowing. The larger gangs, in addition to lacking in 
flexibility, fail also in the other extreme, it being impossible 
to produce a wide frame of the necessary rigidity without undue 
weight. Furthermore, the absence of the landside makes it 
necessary for the carrying wheels of the disk plow to counter- 
act all the side pressure of the soil. This is excessive where a 
large number of disks is carried upon one frame, and the rear 
wheel must be weighted heavily to keep the plow in the ground. 
The medium sizes of from four to seven disks are now more 
popular than either extreme, presenting a compromise between 
compactness, flexibility, and ease of steering. They are 
usually capable of variation in the number of disks and the 
width of cut per disk. For difficult soils one or two more disks 
can be added without changing the total width of cut. Each 
disk then cuts a narrower furrow, and has better penetration. 
The twenty-four-inch disk is most frequently used, though for 
sandy soil a size two inches larger is popular on account of its 
longer life. 

In construction the disk gang is very much like the solid 
moldboard gang. In fact, one fairly successful combination 
has been offered, either disks or moldboards, or both, being 
supplied with the frame. The solid frame is open to the same 
objections as the solid moldboard type, and presents the same 
problems as to hitching and the securing of uniform depth and 
quality of plowing. The frame is necessarily heavier and 
stronger than on horse plows and the wheels are usually cast 
very heavy, a single wheel weighing as high as 225 pounds for 
extremely hard ground. The greater number of makers use 
inclined furrow wheels to take part of the pressure off the land 
wheels. Castered wheels on most makes permit the gang to 
follow the engine closely in either direction^ provided the method 
of hitch will permit. 


The levers are like those of the solid moldboard gang in 
appearance and function. On some gangs the angle of the 
disk to the line of draft is open to adjustment. It is claimed 
that if the disk be set so the beveled face on the rear of the 
cutting edge is level at the bottom of the furrow and per- 
pendicular at the surface of the ground the disks will run practi- 
cally without side draft. In addition to setting the disks closer 
together, a less abrupt angle can be used to secure better pene- 
tration. For trashy ground the disk may be set to have a 
coulter-like effect, thus cutting and burying the vegetation 
more satisfactorily. A running-board and seat may be pro- 
vided. The latter is usually located at the rear, as the weight 
of the driver aids in holding the plows in line. Weight boxes 
and extra weights are often provided at the rear of each gang. 

Castings serve to hold the disks to the frame. The disk 
may have a shaft through the centre, with a bearing at either 
end, or an axle attached to the rear, or convex, surface only. 
In either case the bearing is long, well lubricated, and often 
chilled, as the disk must be kept permanently in perfect ahgn- 
ment. Ball bearings to receive the end thrust are a valuable 
feature. Scrapers are necessary to clean the disks, and they 
aid in turning the soil. They are often given a moldboard 
curvature to accomplish the latter, and one maker states that 
the successfiil turning of the soil depends more on the size 
and adjustment of the scraper than on any other part of the 
disk plow. 

The hitch to the engine is by the same means as used on 
the solid moldboard gangs. However, it must be put close to 
the right side of the gang in order to overcome the latter's 
tendency to crowd to the left and jump out of the furrow. 

The centre of resistance, especially on outfits of one or two 
small gangs, is therefore to the right of the centre of the 
engine, one disk-plow manufacturer stating that three fourths 
of the load is on the right drive-wheel. Greater difficulty 
in steering and unequal strain on the engine are the results. 


Lengthening the chain between the engine and the rear of the 
gant is one common method of changing the angle of the disks. 

With twenty-four-inch disks, furrows from four to eight 
inches deep and eight to twelve inches wide may be cut. One 
prominent designer reconmiends plowing furrows not less than 
five or six inches deep and not over eight inches, preferably 
seven, wide. The deeper the furrow the less prominent the 
"hogbacks" left on the surface, and at a depth of six inches 
a disk cutting not over seven inches wide will break out the 
triangular space between it and the next disk and leave the 
bottom of the fvurow practically level. As a rule, however, 
the average user cuts nine or ten inches with each disk, and 
many not over four inches deep in the centre of the furrow. 
In consequence, while more ground is covered, a seed bed of 
uneven depth is formed. 

Different makes of disk plows vary considerably in strength 
and durability. The frame must be very well braced, and the 
castings heavy. Even with the best construction, simplicity 
brings the cost low as compared with the best moldboard gangs. 
If the disks are properly set and held in place, breakage is much 
less frequent than where some play is allowed, and the disks 
are to some extent self-sharpening. A twenty-four-inch 
disk has nearly four times the cutting edge of a fourteen-inch 
share, and being thinner stays sharp longer. The disk plow 
rolls over obstructions instead of catching. These items 
greatly reduce the cost of repairs, in which should be included 
sharpening, as compared with moldboard plows. 

The common practice with disk plows is to plow a continuous 
furrow aroimd the field without lifting the plows. As the disks 
seldom choke up with trash and do not require frequent sharp- 
ening, lost time on"^ account of the plows is less serious. On the 
other hand, larger triangles at the corners of the field are 
usually left to be plowed out with horses. In rounding the 
comers unplowed patches are apt to be left between strips, neces- 
sitating extra trips between comer and centre to finish the field. 


The disk is essentiaUy a pulverizer, hence b not recommended 
for sod breaking except in short buffalo grass and in sandy ground. 
For breaking, a crusher is usually drawn behind disk plows to 
compact the sod and hasten its decomposition. The natural 
field for the disk-engine gang is in the South, the Southwest, 
and the semi-arid plains. Successful farm management in 
those sections often involves plowing at a season of the year 
when the ground is too hard and dry for moldboard plows, and 
the temperature too great for the use of animal power. As 
before stated, however, where either type may be used, the 
moldboard is preferable for any power, and for mechanical 
power the efficiency of the latest flexible moldboard types is 
so far superior as to make their selection practically universal. 



jk HOST of conditions afifect the choice of a plow by the 
/^ farmers of any given section. Topography and the 
/ %^ kind and conditions of soil are among the most im- 
portant. The climate, also, by determining the length 
of the plowing season, is a large factor, as well as the area of the 
fields to be plowed within that season. The type of farming 
which exists determines to some extent the percentage of the 
total area plowed each year, and the nature of the crops grown 
affects the depth of plowing. The state of cultivation deter- 
mines whether or not sod-breaking plows are needed, while 
individual or local whims may specify a certain type. The 
amount and price of human labor and the power available for 
plowing are influential factors, while the financial circumstances 
of the farmer may prevent his selection of the equipment 
which would be most profitable. 

In the New England and North Atlantic States there are 
perhaps a greater variety of conditions than anywhere else 
in the United States, except in California. The country is 
generaUy rolling, if not rugged; the soil is varied in its com- 
position and texture, even in the same field, and it is impossible 
to secure plows which will meet all these conditions with equal 
success. Stones and sand abound in the soil, which is largely 
composed of rocks which have been broken down in place, or 
moved at most only a short distance. There is abundant rain- 
fall to keep the soil moist enough for easy plowing, and as the 
areas plowed are small, the season usually sufSces for the 



entire work. Excessive heat is not a drawback at any 

The farms are seldom large and are cut up into small, irregular 
fields set off by stone fences which were built at the edges of 
the early clearings. There is a great deal of small truck farm- 
ing, considerable dairying, and many farms on which prac- 
tically all the products are used on the farm itself. In the 
face of competition with the new and fertile lands of the West 
the farmers long ago abandoned grain raising as a commercial 
proposition, and much of the land has been allowed to revert 
to grazing or meadow land. A small percentage, therefore, 
of the cultivated land is plowed each year. There is no virgin 
sod to be broken, and oidy occasionally is an old meadow 
brought into rotation. 

New England farming suffers from a lack of power, the 
horse as a rule being small and of racing rather than draft 
stock. The small native horses of 900 to 1000 pounds and the 
large Western horses of 1400 to 1500 poimds are not so well 
adapted to the greater part of New England as medium weight 
horses of the old Morgan stock. To quote L. G. Dodge, of 
the U; S. Department of Agriculture: "With the exception of 
restricted localities, the lack of efficient horsepower is deplor- 
able. Better farming was done, as a rule, twenty-five years 
ago, when oxen were used, and plows set at the proper depth. 
The average New England farmer is too conservative and 
controlled by habit, and he dislikes to adopt new machinery 
if the increased cost is at all evident. He lays the lack of 
improvement to topography, size of fields, heaviness of draft 
of new machineiy, etc., when it is in many cases due to 
his own inertia or lack of foresight. The lack of suit- 
able machinery is one of the greatest hindrances to the 
New England farmer's producing profitably. In the face 
of high-priced labor he must learn to use machinery in place 
of hand labor, and then have suitable horses to draw it, 
for horses are cheaper than men in terms of product, andt 


Breaking, crushing and disking with a 120 brake horsepower steam engine 

A tractor with extension rims on the wheels double disking and harrowing 

Caterpillar type of tractor and combined harvester cutting, threshing 

and sacking grain 


while horses can be bought, it is often impossible to hire men 
at any price." 

The more vigorous native labor has been drawn from the 
fields to the factories, and its place taken by immigrants, who 
are not accustomed to handling large teams or machinery. 
While the scarcity of labor is deplored on every hand, to a 
Western farmer the waste involved in the use of one or even 
two men with a one-horse plow or cultivator is appalling. In 
most cases the returns from the soil are sufficient to justify 
the purchase of better equipment, especially when a change 
in the system of management would provide larger income. 

The best New England farmer wants deep plowing and 
effective pulverization, with the furrows completely inverted; 
hence the jointer is popular. Under the conditions just enum- 
erated, it is evident that the majority of plows are small and 
cheap. They are made of cast iron, without riding attach- 
ments. Where cast iron will not scour, the chilled steel plow 
is used because of the extreme wear among the sandy soils 
and loose rocks. On truck farms of the kitchen garden type 
the small one-horse plow turning a furrow five or six inches in 
width is used, this being the one general use of the single mold- 
board plow. Furrows larger than twelve inches are unconmion. 
Owing to the steep grades, which make it impossible to turn a 
furrow up hill, practically all walking plows are of the hillside 
or swivel type. This plow has a reversible bottom, the point 
acting alternately as shin and share, and the moldboard being 
so shaped as to turn the furrow in either direction. In the 
hands of a man who knows how to run it, the hillside plow will 
do good work, but even the manufacturers confess their in- 
ability to make the plow do as efficient work as the single 

To some extent, riding plows are taking the place of hill- 
side plows. These are invariably equipped with both right 
and left hand bottoms, which work alternately, so that the 
furrows are all tiuned one way. In certain Areas, such as 


Aroostook County in Maine, Grand Isle County in Vennont, 
the Connecticut Valley, and elsewhere, larger fields, gently 
sloping or level land, and types of farming producing a larger 
income to the acre, encourage the use of larger horses and 
implements. The two-way sulky plow, however, is used in 
preference to the gang plow, as even on level lands farmers 
prefer to have their furrows turned in the same direction. 

Extending along the South Atlantic Gulf coasts and back- 
ward for a varying distance from the tidewater lies the section 
known as the Coastal Plain. This Is an area only recently 
uplifted from the ocean bed, hence is composed of loose sands 
and gravel in an unconsolidated state. The natural drainage 
is poor, and artificial drainage has not been effected. Rice, 
sea island cotton, and the long-leaf piue are the principal crops. 
Around centres of population, and where transportation 
facilities are good, trucking is an important industry. The 
nature of the soil demands a cast or chilled plow adapted to 
shallow work. The trucking industry demands a one-horse 
plow, which, however, may be up to twelve inches in width. 
Riding plows, chiefly of the reversible disk type, are used by 
the better class of farmers on the larger farms. 

Here especially, and elsewhere in the South, the lack of 
power and efficient labor is creating the demand for engine- 
gang plows and suitable tractors. The Southern planter is 
rapidly advancing from the "one-mule" subdivision of his farm 
to the "thirty-horse tractor" stage. The Negro problem in 
the South, like the "hobo" problem in the West, strengthens 
the demand for something that will take production out of the 
hands of the inefficient mob and concentrate it in those of 
the intelligent few. 

Back of the Coastal Plain, and extending parallel with it, 
lies the Piedmont Plateau. This is in reality an ancient moun- 
tain range worn down to a series of slopes covered with a deep 
and fertile soil. Conditions encourage the raising of upland 
cotton, tobacco, and in certain altitudes and climates, wheat. 


The individual threshing outfit 

Four horses, one man and a plow 

Two boys, a tractor and four plows 


and a diversity of crops. The soils are heavier than on the 
Coastal Plain, but have been so long under a one-crop system 
that they have lost to a large extent not only their fertility but 
their supply of vegetable matter. They are therefore sticky 
when wet and very hard when thy, with a tendency to run to- 
gether with a heavy rain, even after plowing. 

One of the chief types of farm management in the Piedmont 
section is that of the plantation, where large farms are par- 
celed out to Negro tenants, who furnish their own equipment. 
The Negro's acreage is usually small, and in the absence of 
personal capital he must rely upon advances made by the owner 
or the storekeeper, who naturally limit him to the bare neces- 
sities. The one-crop system is followed, and the ravages of 
the boll weevil are such that extensive credit based on the re- 
turns of the crops is unwise. The Negro's equipment, there- 
fore, is usually limited to a light steer or a decrepit mule, and 
the cheapest possible implements, including an eight-inch turn- 
ing plow costing about $1.50. 

The lack of sufficient power has tended to reduce plowing 
to a matter of small teams and plows, since an average of one 
work animal per farm laborer is not maintained throughout 
the Cotton Belt States. The lack of power results in the gen- 
eral use of small moldboard plows adapted to shallow plowing, 
although the General Educational Board and the United 
States Department of Agriculture, through the cooperative 
Demonstration Work founded by the late Dr. S. A. Knapp, 
are teaching not only diversified farming, but deeper plowing. 
Three and four mule riding plows, frequently reversible, are 
thus coming into use. These are usually disk plows, since 
they are better adapted to working in hard or sandy groimd, 
and in land that has once been cultivated but allowed during 
a rest period to revert to an overgrowth of timber. Small 
double moldboard plows, known as "middle-busters," are used 
in cotton fields to break out the middles — i. e., the old roots 
from the previous season's planting. Local prejudices and soil 


conditions determine the exact style used, just as in the case 
of the single moldboard plow. Plowing in this section, as in 
the entire South, may be done at almost any season of the year. 
The climate, however, is one of abundant rainfall during the 
winter months and of extreme heat during the late summer 
and fall. The bulk of the plowing for small grains and cover 
crops is done between August and November, and for cotton 
and com between Januaiy and April. 

Still ftuther back from the Atlantic Coast, and parallel to 
the Piedmont Plateau, lies the Appalachian region, which is 
generally too rugged for agriculture. In the broad valleys, 
however, farming of the most improved type is practicable 
where the transportation facilities allow the marketing of 
products. The hillsides are farmed only by a low class of 
poor whites, and the plows and customs of this class are little 
advanced over those in general use a century ago. 

In some sections of the South, particularly in the Delta 
regions of the Mississippi and the so-called black waxy land of 
Louisiana and Texas, a sticky, rubbery soil makes necessary 
the exercise of the greatest ingenuity in providing plows which 
will turn the surface. One type of plow has a short steep mold- 
board, four mules being required to a single plow. No attempt 
is made to make these plows scour, the pitch of the moldboard 
being sufficient to turn the earth across the surface with the 
erpenditure of a great amount of power. On the other hand, 
a long curving moldboard, not unlike the prairie breaker, is 
successfully used when the soil is in a favorable condition of 
dryness. In developing the moldboard for this particular 
soil type every device which the imagination could suggest was 
tried out. A moldboard made of glass failed, as did one com- 
posed of rollers. Persistent attempts were made to dry the 
earth as it passed over the moldboard with a small furnace 
underneath the latter, or even to oil the moldboard, oil being 
forced through perforations. The nearest approach to success 
under all conditions was a wooden moldboard covered with 


pigskin. A local fanner with this combination succeeded in 
plowing while the various factory experts were experimenting 
in vain. 

In the North Central States, east of the Mississippi River, 
and in Iowa and Missouri, the ground is fairly level or gently 
rolling, with good natural drainage. The soils are glacial loams 
containing sand, gravel, and loose boulders, some alluvial soils; 
some loess, usually known as clay or silt loam, and some tough 
sticky "gumbo." The rainfall is moderate, and the heat not 
excessive, during the plowing season. The fields and farms 
are of moderate size, and in the older states the fields are apt 
to be smaU and irregular. General farming is the rule, with 
from one third to one half of the cultivated area plowed each 
season. Com and other intertilled crops require deep plowing 
— i. e., five to eight inches, and the small grains something 
less. FoUowing intertilled crops, the small grains, especially 
oats, are often disked in without plowing. Very little virgin 
sod remains to be broken, and the tame sod is usually broken 
by general purpose models. The soils require a moldboard 
which will take a high land polish, hence the soft-center steel 
plow is generally used, with the chilled plow next in point of 

A large nimiber of horses in proportion to laborers is pro- 
vided, and owing to the fact that horse raising is a prominent 
industry, the excess of power required at plow time can be 
provided for on a great many farms. The work horses are of 
large size, probably averaging 1300 pounds in weight. Labor 
is scarce and high priced, but as a rule quite efficient in handling 
teams and large implements. Sulky and gang plows are natur- 
ally adapted to conditions, and the farmers are in position to 
purchase the equipment which best serves their purpose. 

Engine gang plows of from four to six bottoms are coming 
rapidly into favor with the introduction of small tractors of 
such horsepower, weight, and flexibility as to speed, as adapt 
them to com belt conditions. 


In old ground plowing, most farmers desire to have the 
furrows well pulverized, hence the prevailing types of mold- 
board are the stubble and general purpose. For very heavy 
soils, even in stubble plowing, a long moldboard with less pul- 
verizing effect is used on account of the draft. There are 
many walking plows, even where riding plows are found on 
the same farm. The majority of plows are right hand, al- 
though in parts of Indiana and Ohio the left-hand moldboard 
is insisted upon. There is no difference in the quality of the 
work nor in the ease of manipulation. A possible explanation 
of this preference is that the jerkline largely used in the South 
comes handiest on the left or "haw" side. The team is 
guided by jerks on a single line, and the guide horse necessarily 
walks in the furrow. A few disk plows and a few plows made 
especially for ox power are sold in this section. 

In the other North Central States west of the Mississippi 
River the topography is even less rolling. The soils are glacial, 
with wind-deposited or alluvial loess over most of the area. 
In many sections there are large deposits of "gumbo" soil of 
alluvial origin. Soft-center steel is universal as a moldboard 
material. Frequently, however, wrought-iron rods take the 
place of the moldboard in sod or very tenacious soil. The 
climate allows work in the fields diiring a large part of the year, 
although, owing to the fact that spring grains must be put in 
early, a considerable amoimt of the plowing must be done late 
in the fall. The farms are large, with large fields and few fences. 
Practically one half of the total cultivated area is plowed each 
year on all farms and on many the entire acreage is plowed, 
wild hay for horse feed being cut from the open prairie. Thou- 
sands of acres of wild land remain to be broken, and the prairie 
breaker is as common as the stubble plow. The Northwest 
Provinces of Canada present practically the same conditions, 
though large areas of brush land call for a heavy type of plow 
known as the brush breaker. 

Horse raising is not so successful as in the older sections. 


owing to the lack of employment during the dry season and the 
long winters which require food and shelter for the horses. 
The horses, however, are usually of fair size, though many small 
horses bred upon the range are iu common use. As a rule 
farmers are prosperous and able to select the most approved 
type of implements. Labor is scarce, high priced, and often 
unreliable, and every effort is made to utilize animal or 
mechanical power in place of human efforts. 

The walking plow is not a practical implement for regular 
use on the average farm in the Northwest, owing to its waste 
of human labor. The large area cultivated makes the two- 
furrow gang plows the most generally popular and useful for 
use with horses. The large area of level land, free from ob- 
structions, has created a remarkable field for the engine gang 
plow, and the percentage of plowing done by mechanical power 
is rapidly increasing each year. In this section the mold- 
board plow is by far the most popular. The disk plow is used 
only occasionally, and then almost always in land which has 
first been subdued by the use of the moldboard. Where the 
soil has much clay or gypsum and lime, the steel moldboard 
scours better than the chilled. Cast shares can be used with 
either moldboard in all but a few soils, and are cheaper than 
the steel "lays." The use of larger animals has been accom- 
panied by a gradual increase in the average size of plows, even 
in the last decade. 

On irrigated farms ra the West the two-way sulky plow is 
growiug in favor, owing to the fact that no dead furrows are 
left to interfere with the distribution of water. This is a 
curious and unpremeditated adaptation of a plow designed 
especially for hilly ground in New England. 

Disk plows are used to subdue much of the sage brush prairie 
found in the West and Southwest, and the disk plow iacreases 
in favor toward the southern latitudes. The topography and 
size of grain farms in Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and New 
Mexico favor the use of mechanical power and engine gang 


plows. Probably four fifths of the traction outfits include 
the disk engine gang. 

Conditions in the Far Western states require a greater va- 
riety of farm equipment than in any other section, and prac- 
tically every type of plow foimd elsewhere in the United States 
is used. The land varies from level to mountainous, the farms 
from tiny patches of highly valuable fruit and truck crops to 
immense grain ranches. All climates and all altitudes are to 
be found. The great diversity of crops, the variation in kind 
and depth of soil, make the depths of plowing widely different 
in different sections. Not only are the conditions varied in 
the extreme, but much more severe than those prevailing east 
of the Rocky Mountains, and the demand for any particular 
type of plow is limited. Neither machinery nor agricultiu% is 
standardized. It is therefore difficult to interest Eastern 
manufacturers in providing plows fully adapted to local needs. 
The same conditions discoiu-age the establishment of factories 
on the Coast, though many circumstances are favorable. 
Buildings are cheaper than in the East and labor often as 
cheap. Crude oil fiumshes cheap fuel, and freight rates 
on raw material from Eastern mines are less than on finished 
products. Only local manufacture or closer study by Eastern 
makers will result in plows satisfactory for every condition. 

Plows must be made heavier, stronger, of better materials 
and simpler, especially for California. The soils are heavier 
and many contain cementing materials which bind them in 
masses like concrete. There is no frost and little rain at the 
proper time, hence these soils must be loosened by machinery. 
Along the Coast the salt air soon eats up iron and steel and 
lever handles of steel last only five to nine months before 
breaking. Plow bottoms frequently outlast the frames. Wood 
is demanded in the frames and wherever else possible. Back 
from the Coast the hot sim takes the sap out of unseasoned wood, 
and all stock must be dried for several years before using. 
White teamsters are seldom available in California, the work 


on large ranches being done by Japanese, Mexicans, and 
Indians, none skilled in handling teams and adjusting plows. 
Eastern improvements are therefore apt to be detrimental. 
The ideal plow, then, is one made to go through any soil, 
plow deeply, and run with little attention from the driver. On 
the other hand, the cost of such a plow is of no object to the 
large rancher and he ordinarily rebuilds purchased equipment 
to suit his own ideas. Plows suited to local conditions sell 
readily at from 25 to 100 per cent, higher cost than correspond- 
ing types in the Central States. 

The sand and gravel in the soil call for chilled, rather than 
soft center, steel in plow bottoms, and in dry land the disk plow 
is popular. It allows plowing to be done before the fall rains, 
after the start of which it is often impossible to plow the de- 
sired acreage. The pumice in volcanic ash soils in the North- 
west necessitates the use of a chilled plow. The soil is more 
easily pulverized, hence a lower, straighter and less sharply 
curved moldboard is used than in the heavy soils of California. 
Prairie breakers are not extensively used. The shallowness 
of the layer of fertile soil in many places limits plowing to a 
depth of from four to six inches and favors the use of shallow- 
turning plows such as the Stockton gang. Work in vineyards 
requires a small plow, closely coupled, with an adjustment 
allowing the handles and beam to be set to one side and the 
plow to run close to the vines. For both orchards and vine- 
yards the small one-horse plow is common and many so-called 
"pony" gangs, each turning several narrow, shallow furrows, 
are used. The reclaimed marsh, or tule, lands require plows 
of great clearance. Engine gang plows are numerous on the 
great ranches, but steep grades prohibit the economical use of 
tractors over a large part of the grain-raising country. There 
are few medium sized holdings, the majority being either small 
patches of five to twenty acres, or ranches of from 400 acres 
upward. In consequence few sulky plows are used as compared 
with one-horse and gang plows. 


Plows for unusually deep tillage have never become generally 
popular, in any section, because of the power required to oper- 
ate them. National and state agricultural authorities recom- 
mend their use at least once in two or three seasons, but only 
an occasional small farmer owns one. For the cultivation of 
sugar beets in Kansas, Colorado, California and other states 
in the West, and of sugar cane in the South, in Porto Rico, Cuba, 
and the Hawaiian Islands, plowing at least twelve inches deep 
is regarded as a necessity. In the culture of cane, in the South, 
a large, heavy plow with double moldboard is used widely for 
breaking out the old middles and for bedding up the rows. 
The cable-drawn plows used on sugar-beet ranches in the West 
have much higher moldboards in proportion to width of furrow 
than ordinary old land plows, and have much greater flare, 
or overhead. This is due largely to the higher speed at which 
they are drawn. Numerous gangs have been put forth, in 
both disk and moldboard types, in which one plow is set below 
and to one side of the other. As a rule these are made to 
bring up the lower stratum and deposit it upon what has been 
the sittface layer. While this is objectionable in case too much 
fresh earth is brought to the surface at one time, these plows 
eventually secure a thorough mixture of the soil and form an 
ideal seed bed up to 18 inches in depth. Up to the present 
time makers of these plows have failed to make them in gangs 
suitable for mechanical traction power. 

For loosening the subsoil without turning it to the surface, the 
subsoil plow is used. This consists of a shoe or beak, attached 
to the bottom of a powerful knife-like standard. Usually it is 
run in the furrow following an ordinary turning plow. It is 
used chiefly to prepare the subsoil for deeper root growth and 
to increase the moisture reservoir. In regions of moderate 
rainfall it is seldom used, and deeper plowing in dry-farming 
sections is rendering the subsoil plow less popular. 



TILLAGE is Manure, " says Jethro Tull. Kropotkin, 
the famous Russian author — exile, found that minute 
pulverization paid so well in crop returns that he 
could afiFord to lift and carry the earth from his 
garden to a grinding machine and back again. The late Dr. 
Seaman A. Knapp, in reviewing the gains secured by applying 
modem methods and machinery to the primitive agriculture of 
the South, stated that the best seedbed added 100 per cent., the 
best cultivation 50 per cent., and the best seed only 60 per cent, 
to the crop as compared with average practice. The profit was 
increased tenfold where the yield became threefold. Tillage 
all but takes the place of moisture in dry farming, and is 
undoubtedly the cornerstone of good farming everywhere. 

Pulverization,that is,the securing of proper physical condition 
of the soil by stirring or otherwise, is claimed by most writers 
to be the primary object of tillage. Checking the growth of, 
and burying, undesirable vegetation is secondary, though a 
new school of scientists is endeavoring to show that prevent- 
ing weed growth is even more important than seciuing proper 
physical condition. Plowing is the fimdamental operation 
of our present tillage system, and the plow the most effective 
tillage implement. 

Pulverization changes the hard soil into a deep mellow seed- 
bed, offering little resistance to the travel of plant roots in 
search of food and water. It enlarges the feeding area of 
roots, by placing more plant food and moisture within easy 



reaching distance. It checks the cooling of the soil by sur- 
face evaf)oration, and thus favors the germination of seeds. 
It retards the loss of moisture in the heat of summer. It 
promotes bacterial action in the soil, the fixation of atmos- 
pheric nitrogen by bacteria, and the change of plant food 
from the insoluble to the available form. It enables the soil 
to recover in the shape of dew a part of the moisture lost by 
evaporation. By more than a thousandfold increase in the 
area of the soil grains or kernels and the volume of the air 
spaces between, it enables the soil to fix a larger amount of 
nitrogen from the air without bacterial aid. 

Plowing with properly designed moldboards accomplishes 
by far the greatest amoimt of pulverization. In addition, it 
checks the growth of weeds which steal food and moisture, 
burying them beneath the surface, where they decompose to 
improve the physical condition of the soil, and to yield up 
supplies of humus and plant food for the benefit of plants of 
economic importance. An analysis of the action of the mold- 
board upon the furrow shows how the primary objects of 
plowing are accomplished. Professor King has likened the 
action of the share and the moldboard to what takes place 
when aU the pages of a book are grasped between the thiunb 
and fingers and bent abruptly. The furrow slice is divided 
into thin layers which slide over each other like the leaves of 
the book, dividing the soil into horizontal flakes. It will be 
remembered that it was the old Berkshire plow's separation 
of the furrow into layers that aroused and held Jethro Tull's 

The inner wall of the furrow slice, next the land, must 
travel faster than the outer edge as it comes up and over. In 
the low moldboard of the prairie breaker this additional travel 
is not great enough, nor the turns abrupt enough, to break the 
tension of the elastic sod, which is usually cut in very shallow 
strips. With a deep furrow, the horizontal shearing of the 
soil layers over each other takes place, even though the elas- 


ticity of the sod may not be overcome in shallow plowing. 
In stubble plows, the moldboard is made steeper, and the inner 
edge of the fmrow slice must travel a much greater distance. 
The inner edge being required to turn a sharp angle while the 
outer edge remains stationary, the slice is broken by perpen- 
dicular fissures which cross it at right angles to the landside. 

A third line of cleavage is secured by the eflFect of the curva- 
ture of the moldboard. Since the soil layers do not slide over 
each other with the freedom of the leaves of a book, the sur- 
face layer, which is also more tenacious, often curves sharply 
without crumbling. The layers nearer the moldboard must 
therefore be extended sufficiently to form concentric arcs of 
longer radius. The steeper and sharper the moldboard, the 
more will the natural elasticity of the soil be overcome, and 
deep fissures will extend parallel to the landside and perpen- 
dicular to the bottom of the furrow. In practice, any one, or 
all, of these three effects of the moldboards may be lost through 
carelessness or avoided by design. 

The plow may be likened also to a plane. If the bit of the 
plane is sharp and properly set, it cuts easily. If a thin 
shaving is cut, the lifting action of the bit placed at a low angle 
is not sufficient to overcome the elasticity of the wood, and 
the shaving comes forth in a smooth, continuous band. If the 
bit be set at a greater angle, even the thin shaving is sharply 
broken at frequent intervals, and it requires greater force to 
drive the plane. If a deep shaving is taken, then the bit must 
be set at a practically impossible angle if the shaving is not to 
be broken. Ordinarily, the difference in the distance traveled 
by the upper and lower surfaces of the shaving, about the 
angle formed by the board and the bit, is sufficient to over- 
come the natural yielding of the wood, and since the fibers are 
not free to glide over each other, the lowest layer, which trav- 
els farthest must be broken at frequent intervals. This 
accoimts for the great amount of power required to move a 
plane under improper conditions of adjustment. 


Soils as well as woods, vary greatly in their tenacity. In 
a light, sandy soil less abrupt curvature of the moldboard will 
be required to fracture the furrow slice than in a stiff clay. The 
friction of the furrow slice against curves in the plow con- 
sumes more and more power as the curves are made more abrupt. 
In the same soil the breaker moldboard runs with about 20 
per cent, less draft than the stubble moldboard, hence the 
power required to pulverize the soils adds at least one fourth 
to the power required to cut and turn the fiurow, and to over- 
come the friction of the soil upon the plow. While the stubble 
moldboard requires additional power on account of pulverizing, 
the tenacity of the prairie sod is so great that, even at a much 
shallower depth of plowing, with practically no pulverization, 
the average sod-breaker takes from 40 to 60 per cent, more 
power than a stubble plow of the same size working deeper in 
old groimd. 



PLOWING cannot always be done under the best condi- 
tions. It must ordinarily extend over a considerable 
period, during which conditions may pass from one 
extreme to the other. It goes without saying that the 
farmer should endeavor to do the bulk of his work at a time 
when the desired objects can be most eflfectively accomplished. 
Climate, latitude, altitude and crops all influence the time of 
plowing. To assist the new farmer in planning his season's 
work, the United States Department of Agriculture has collected 
from all portions of the country the usual dates of various crop 
operations. If one does not have this information, it is safe to 
follow the practice of the best farmers in the neighborhood, 
but better still is a knowledge of the eflPects of plowing, so 
that if for any reason the farmer wishes to plow out of season, 
he can judge for himself the fitness of the soil. 

Most farmers know that soils are composed of particles of 
rock of varying size and composition, with a certain amount of 
organic matter derived from the decay of animal and vegetable 
tissues. Varying amounts of water are held upon the sur- 
faces of the soil kernels in films of greater or less thickness, 
though occasionally the spaces between the soil grains may be 
entirely filled. There is a certain amount of mineral matter 
normally in solution, but often deposited upon the soil particles 
by the evaporation of water. King adds that in most soils, 
particularly the clayey types, there occurs some aluminium 
silicate, combined with water, which gives these soils their 



sticky, plastic quality when wet. The soil particles may 
occur in a finely divided state, as in silt or clay soils, or in the 
coarse state found in sandy or gravelly soils. Usually, and 
especially in case of cultivated soils composed of finer particles, 
the soil grains occur in clusters, or kernels. The varying sizes 
of these kernels largely determine the physical characteristics, 
or texture, of the soil. The larger the grains and kernels, the 
more open and permeable the soil to the action of water and 
air through the air spaces within it, and the lower the moisture- 
holding capacity becomes, owing to the reduction of the total 
surface. The optimum condition for plowing depends largely 
on local conditions, including the nature of the soil. 

Where the soil particles are extremely minute, the soil 
may contain a large percentage of water, yet yield a limited 
amount for the use of plants, owing to the tenacity with which 
the moisture clings to the soil grains. It is practically impos- 
sible, except under extreme heat, to dry a soil entirely. In 
fine-grained soils it is desirable that the soil kernels be of fair 
size, both to increase the ease with which plants can secure 
water and to render the soil more porous. If plowing is done 
while the soil is too wet, these kernels are easily broken down, 
and the soil grains will assume the closest possible arrangement, 
making the movement of air, water and plant roots extremely 
slow and difficult. A high content of lime in such a soil tends 
to flocculate it — i. e., collect it into kernels — hence soils 
naturally or artificially limed may be handled safely when 
containing a fair amount of moisture. If such a soil is plowed 
when too dry, the plow will shear it into thicker layers, and 
coarser kernels will be formed. If very dry, the soil has prac- 
tically no elasticity, and is merely broken into clods. In sandy 
soils the tendency of soil grains to form clusters is very slight, 
hence under any conditions there is little shearing action. 
Sandy soils may be plowed at any convenient time, provided, 
as sometimes occiu-s in the South, heavy rains do not follow 
shortly afterward to cause the soil to run together and destroy 


the effect of plowing. It is the shearing action of the moldboard 
upon the soil kernels, causing them to divide at the edges of 
the layers, that makes plowing in tenacious clay or gumbo 
soils so much harder than in sandy or loamy soils. 

Plowing should be done when most effective. It should be 
done with reference to the objects desired most, weeds or other 
vegetation beiog buried at a time when their growth will be 
most injured, if that is the principal object; or when the desired 
texture of the soil may be reestablished, if that is the prime 
consideration. Extremely dry soils may profitably be broken 
into lumps of considerable size, for in most sections frost or 
rain can be depended upon to reduce their size later. This 
practice is especially good if high winds might cause drifting 
of too finely divided soil. Fall plowing may well be left rough, 
in order that snow may be caught to melt into the ground, 
and frequently a fringe of vegetation left uncovered will assist 
in catching drifting soil and snow. 


The depth of plowing depends largely upon the character 
of the soil, the climate and the crops to be grown. Channels 
between the soil kernels are easily formed in sandy soils without 
plowing; consequently the principal object is often to bury vege- 
tation. Plowing too deeply may render the soil too porous 
and hasten the oxidation, or burning out, of organic matter. 
It is seldom desirable to plow very sandy soils to a depth of more 
than three or four inches. Very retentive soils devoid of 
humus, and those containing cementing elements, should be 
broken to a much greater depth at least every other season. 
Done at the proper time, and by the proper plbw, this soil will 
be granulated and loosened, thus securing the porous condition 
favoring plant development. Between these two extremes 
lies a great range of soil types requiring greater or less depth of 
plowing. Sod, either wild or tame, is usually broken shallower 


than old ground, so that tearing and pulverizing implements 
may have a thinner layer to work upon. It is quite necessary 
that a shallow layer be well cut up, as a mat of dry vegetation 
between the subsoil and seedbed checks the capillary rise of 
water. Occasionally the depth of fertile soil limits that of plow- 
ing. Beavers says, in Farmers' Bulletin 398: "It has been 
demonstrated by farm practice in the South that where the 
soil is plowed deep more fertilizer can be used profitably than 
on soil plowed shallow. " 

The cereal crops are naturally rather shallow feeders; hence 
in humid climates plowing is at less depth for wheat, oats, etc., 
than for corn and root crops. They require a firmer seedbed, 
which is of further advantage in saving power at cutting time. 
Com requires a larger feeding area for its roots than the smaller 
cereal plants; hence plowing in corn ground is usually from one 
to three inches deeper. The leading agronomists of the Com 
Belt unanimously recommend plowing for corn at a depth of 
from six to nine inches. Recent experiments with a deep 
tilling machine have been followed by a remarkable increase 
in the yield of com on fields plowed to a depth of from ten to 
fourteen inches. Root crops, such as potatoes and sugar beets, 
require deep plowing, twelve inches for the latter being con- 
sidered the possible minimum in the heavy adobe soil of Col- 
orado and California. 

In the semi-arid regions deep plowing is prerequisite to highly 
successful farming. However, Western farm horses are often 
small, few in numbers, and not cared for in a way to obtain 
their maximum efficiency; hence, shallow plowing is the rule 
rather than the exception. The soils have become solidified 
by the tramping of many generations of animals and by the 
rains of centuries. Moisture penetrates only a short distance 
except where the ground has been loosened by artificial agencies. 
Professor Buffum, of Wyoming, states that some of these soils, 
when in excellent tilth, will absorb over 40 per cent, of their 
weight of water. As tb« lack of moisture is th^ Umiting 


factor in dry -land crop production, the shortage of power neces- 
sary for deep and thorough cultivation at all times is a serious 
obstacle to profitable farming. 

Deep furrows, as before pointed out, are more apt to be 
pulverized than shallow; hence to some extent the plow per- 
forms for the subsoil what pulverizing implements do for the 
surface layers. Three or four inches of the surface soil must 
be kept stirred as a dust mulch to check the capillary rise of 
water and consequent loss by evaporation. Underneath this 
mulch a dry crust inevitably forms during the growing season; 
hence the actual feeding area of the roots does not begin until 
a depth of five or six inches is reached. As between plowing 
eight inches and ten inches deep there is, therefore, a difference 
of at least 100 per cent, in the zone available for the maintenance 
of the plant. 

The moisture reservoir is increased in the same ratio. The 
deeper the moisture is stored, the greater is the assurance of 
an abundance for the needs of the crop, as each successive inch 
dries out more slowly. Professor Buffum says: "A soil weigh- 
ing one ton per cubic yard weighs approximately 1613 tons 
per acre, taken one foot deep. If such a soil will absorb and 
hold 20 per cent, of moisture and is plowed six inches deep, 
it will take up 161.3 tons of moisture per acre. A rainfall of 
1.4 inches will supply this amoimt of moisture and fiU up our 
six-inch reservoir; if the ground is plowed only three inches deep 
and the subsoil is hard, it would not be able to store a rainfall 
of more than seven tenths of an iach, and should more water 
fall at one time, it will be lost and may wash the soil away with 
it. If plowed nine inches deep and put in good condition, 
such a soil reservoir would absorb and hold over two inches of 
rainfall at one time. A soil already containing considerable 
water would be filled up with less rain, and deep plowing would 
be still more important. . . . Where the soils are light 
and winds drift them, shallow plowing may result in all the 
top soil, down to the sole of the fiurow, being blown away. 


Deep plowing, on the contrary, throws up heavier and rougher 
furrows, and tends to anchor the soU in place. Plowing deep, 
therefore, prevents both washing and drifting." 

In many dry-farming sections the rainfall is so light that 
summer fallowing must be resorted to. This consists of 
cultivating an empty field during one entire season to prevent 
plant growth and conserve the rains of that year for the use 
of the next year's crops. It is seldom necessary to provide as 
great storage capacity as is given by the expensive method of 
subsoiling, but plowing ten or twelve inches deep with ordinary 
plows places the moisture reservoir at a safe depth and makes 
summer fallowing a less expensive means of insuring a crop. 

Deep plowing cannot be accomplished all at once on any 
new soil. Where the soil is heavy and compact, the prairie 
is apt to be covered with "short-grass" sod, indicating that 
only an inch or two of the surface is in condition to sustain 
plant growth. The soil underneath is apt to be cold and 
unproductive, hence must be mixed slowly with the upper 
layers and put into proper physical condition by good tillage 
and exposure to the sun and air. Fall plowing can be done 
more deeply on this account than spring plowing, owing to the 
weathering action of frost and snow. For a year or two after 
the ground is first broken the plowing should not be at the same 
depth as the first breaking, as this will expose undecomposed 
vegetation, the lack of moisture in dry climates retarding decay. 
The ultimate depth desired should be attained gradually, and 
afterward the depth should be varied from year to year to 
avoid forming the "share hardpan." This is a hard, glazed 
condition of the sole of the furrow which renders it impervious 
to water. The trowel-like eflFect of the share and the tramping 
of the furrow horse's feet bring it about. 

A firm seedbed is especially important in diy-land agricul- 
ture to insure prompt germination. In deeply plowed land it 
is therefore advisable to use a subsurface packer. This re- 
packs the intermediate layers, but leaves the top and lower soil 


loose. Disking the ground before plowing, or, better still, 
immediately after harvest, retains much moisture that would 
otherwise be lost. It keeps the ground in condition for easier 
plowing, and establishes a better capillary connection between 
the furrow slice and the subsoil than when hard clods, or masses 
of vegetation with dead air spaces between, are turned to the 


THE first steps in the development of the plow were 
those tending to make it an effective instrument. 
The next were naturally those looking toward the 
elimination of himian labor, and finally the draft of 
plows was studied, not so much, perhaps, from himianitarian 
motives as from a sense of financial loss through wasted power. 
Comparable draft tests are so hard to obtain, according to plow 
experts, that no data should be accepted unless all conditions are 
known, repeated tests are made, and differences indraft so great 
as to preclude any possibility of experimental error. Nevertheless, 
the question of draft of implements is so little regarded by the 
average farmer that approximate truths are worth noting. 

The total draft of a plow is the product of numerous factors, 
each of which will vary under different circumstances. Among 
these may be considered the weight of the plow, its shape, the 
various adjustments, the condition of the plow with respect 
to sharpness and scouring properties, the angle of draft, the 
character of the soil, the skill of the plowman, the presence 
and adjustment of various attachments, the speed of travel, 
the size of the furrow, and others of less importance. The sum 
of these variations may easily amount to 50 per cent., and 
often to 100 per cent. When it is considered that an unavoid- 
able loss in power of 10 per cent, is probably a low estimate 
under present conditions, the tax on ineflBciency is seen to be 
enormous. The annual plowing bill of the United States may 
be estimated at approximately four himdred and fifty milUons 



of dollars. Experiments go to show that very common causes 
effect increases of from 5 to 40 per cent, each in the draft. 
If the United States Department of Agriculture, through a 
Bureau of Agricultural Engineering, were to ascertain and 
induce general recognition of the principles of draft, the farmers 
of the country could well afford to support several Depart- 
ments of Agriculture, each with its corps of 11,000 trained 

The draft data given in the following paragraphs are derived 
from numerous sources, the chief of which are the plow trials 
conducted by the New York Agricultural Society at Utica 
in 1867, and reported by Gould; tests in Missouri and Utah 
two decades ago by Sanborn; and in Illinois by Ocock in 1904. 
The earliest of these trials were the most comprehensive, but 
since then great improvement has been made in both plows and 
dynamometers, and tests of modem plows might not bear out 
the conclusions drawn at that time. It is extremely unfor- 
tunate that the draft tests have received so little attention from 
agricultural engineers, and that no comprehensive data are 
available as to variations in the draft of all modem implements. 

The plow runs lightest when so adjusted as to allow the sole 
of the landside to rim level from point to heel; to cause the line 
of draft to pass at the same time straight from the centre of 
resistance through the attachment at the end of the beam to 
the point where the power is applied, and to render the angle 
of draft — i.e., the angle of the line of draft with the base line 
— as small as the application of power will allow. The loca- 
tion of the centre of resistance varies with the character of the 
soil, the shape of the plow, and the size of the furrow. If power 
could be applied at the centre in a horizontal line, theplowwould 
move with the least possible draft and with perfect balance. 
Obviously, however, it must be applied at a higher point, vary- 
ing with the power used, and this lifting force must be over- 
come either by adjustment of the plow or by pressure on the 
plow handles. In the same way, if power is applied to the 


right or left of the centre, an opposed force must be exerted 
to make the plow nm evenly. 

The true line of draft is always from this centre to the 
point where power is applied; hence any enforced angle, such 
as caused by sagging of the traces, holding up the traces by 
straps, extending or shortening the beam, and raising or lower- 
ing the draft pin in the clevis, disturbs the adjustment. The 
determination of the centre of resistance is, therefore, impor- 

Since the greatest effort is expended by the shin and share in 
severing the furrow slice from the land, the centre must lie 
much nearer the landside than the furrow side of the plow. 
Again, since the resistance of the cutting edge of the share 
and the sole are greater than that of the moldboard, the centre 
must lie nearer the sole than to the crest of the moldboard. 
A third plane of resistance stand perpendicular, at right angles 
to the landside. Cross sections of the plow in planes at differ- 
ent distances from the point show triangular areas increasing 
more rapidly in size than the cutting edges do in length. The 
force required to drive the plow into the ground does not 
increase in proportion to the area cut, and the centre of resis- 
tance will lie in a smaller cross section than that of the whole 
furrow. In other words, it will lie much nearer the point than 
the heel of the share, being farther forward in stiff soUs, in 
sh^ow plowing, and on a rather blunt plow point, than under 
reverse conditions. The centre lies at the intersection of the 
three planes, and its approximate location must be known in 
order to adjust the point of hitch so that it will fall naturally 
within the line of draft. On stubble and general purpose plows 
it will lie close to the shin and to the junction of share and 
moldboard. On plows designed for breaking tough sod at a 
shallow depth it will lie closer to the point and the sole. Pro- 
fessor Gilmore, of Cornell University, states that it is located 
behind the moldboard and two and one half to three inches from 
the wall and sole of the furrow. No other condition within the 


control of the operator so vitally affects the resistance of the 
plow as the one just reviewed, and success demands careful 
observance of the principles governing the lines of draft and 

According to Sanborn, the plow shows the Ughtest draft 
when set to cut the widest furrow of which it is normally capa- 
ble. This is probably accounted for by the remarkable results 
of an experiment at the Utica trials which showed that 55 per 
cent, of the draft of the plow was caused by the cutting of the 
furrow slice, 35 per cent, by the friction of the sole, and only 
10 per cent, by the work of lifting and turning the furrow. 
The average draft of a number of plows running in the empty 
furrow was 168 lbs. The whole draft was 476 lbs., and that 
with the moldboard removed 434 lbs. The difference between 
168 lbs. and 434 lbs. was taken to be the draft required for 
cutting the furrow sUce. Sanborn states later that 42 per cent, 
of the draft is used by the share and landside, and another 
writer puts the moldboard friction at only 2 per cent. These 
figures will not hold for all conditions, but even an approximate 
idea of the division of draft explains many frequently observed 

In relation to the size of furrow, the cutting edge should be 
as small as possible. A furrow 4 x 12 inches has a line 16 inches 
long which must be cut, and an area of cross section of 48 square 
inches, a proportion of 1 to 3. One 6 x 14 inches has a cut 
surface of 20 inches and an area of 84 square inches, a ratio of 
1 to 4.2. The larger the furrow cut, therefore, the less the 
influence of the cutting edges on each square inch of cross sec- 
tion, which is the commonly accepted unit of comparison. 
Sanborn found a constant decrease in draft per square inch as 
the furrow wa,s deepened or widened up to the normal capacity 
of the plow. When made to cut wider, narrower, shallower, or 
deeper than the adjustments of the plow ordinarily permitted 
there was an increase in draft of 15 to 20 per cent., much harder 
work for the plowman and a poorer quality of plowing. 


The point of hitch is lower on a plow than on a wagon. Fre- 
quently a strap is provided at the saddle or rump to hold up 
the traces while the team stands. When the same team and 
harness are used on the plow an angle is formed at the trace. 
Sanborn found the downward pull at this point to equal 50 
lbs., or one third the pulling power of an average 1200 to 1600 
lb. horse. The angle was not as great as he had frequently 
observed, but even then a third of the animal's power was being 
used to gall and annoy it instead of being applied to the work 
in hand. 

The New York Agricultural Society's estimate of the divi- 
sion of the draft explains the enormous difference in draft 
between a sharp share and a dull one, also why it is possible 
to add the weight of a heavy plow frame and a driver to the 
load of the horses, yet not increase the draft. The friction of 
the sole, estimated at 35 per cent., is transferred almost entirely 
to wheels in the sulky plow. The landside is made much 
shorter, and the heel of the latter is usually carried a fraction 
of an inch from both the bottom and side of the furrow by 
means of a staggered wheel. The lifting of the soil is borne 
by the larger wheels and frame, while the relatively small 
moldboard friction remains constant. Sanborn sh6ws only 
.19 lb. per inch, or 3.3 per cent, difference in draft in favor of 
walking over sulky plows, averaging three tests of each, but 
observes that the draft of sulky plows increased on the hills. 
Considering amount and quality of work, the difference in 
draft is negUgible. In fact, an unskilled plowman will even 
cause greater draft in a walking plow by constantly disturbing 
its adjustment. The influence of the operator's efforts to help 
the adjustment was seen in one trial in which different plowmen 
in successive furrows varied the draft from 5.19 to 4.45 and 
5.61 lbs. per inch, respectively, while another on several trials 
ranged from 5.25 lbs. to 6.15 lbs. A small truck or gauge 
wheel under the beam of the plow should, theoretically, in- 
crease the draft by adding friction and by frequently disturb- 


ing the line of draft as it encounters obstructions. Practically 
it is shown to save from 9 to 14 per cent, by the steadier running 
of the plow when it, and not the handles, is used to regulate the 

The power absorbed in severing the furrow slice demands 
that shares be not only sharp but properly sharpened. San- 
bom reports a difference of only 6.7 per cent, in favor of an old 
point resharpened over a dull point on the same plow, but an 
advantage of 36 per cent, in favor of a new point over the old 
one resharpened. A straight edge drawn across the share at 
a right angle to the landside should touch for an inch or so on 
the under side of the cutting edge. The average blacksmith 
will hardly restore to a share the nice adjustment given it at 
the factory, and it is an open question whether a farmer can 
long afford to waste power on resharpened shares. Sanborn 
states that in the case quoted the defects were not easily dis- 
cernible and the work compared favorably with that of the 
average smith. 

At all events, the farmer should not waste power on dull 

At the Winnipeg motor competition in 1909 two six-bottom 
engine gangs of the same make, supposed to be cutting the 
same depth and width, showed a difference in draft of 45 per 
cent. Most of this can be attributed to the fact that one 
was a new plow, just from the factory, especially ground for 
the occasion, while the other had been used for several months 
for plowing in stony ground, with only ordinary attention. 

Speed of travel as a factor of draft is an unsettled question. 
Theoretically, the resistance should increase in a definite ratio 
with the velocity, as in case of bodies moving through air and 
water. Practically, within the ordinary limits of speed, the 
higher rate is considered by some to decrease draft by inducing 
better scouring and turning of the soil by the moldboard, es- 
pecially in heavy soils. Gould's experiments at Utica resulted 
in the conclusion that in plowing friction is entirely indepen- 


dent of velocity, with this exception, that greatly increased 
velocity slightly increases the force required to lift and turn 
the furrow slice, owing to the distance the dirt is thrown. 

The rolling coulter is said by Prof. F. H. King to reduce 
the draft in sod ground from 20.86 to 25.34 per cent. Gould 
declared in favor of the coulter because of its saving in draft, 
but Sanborn claimed a loss of 10 to 15 per cent, due to the 
tendency of the coulter attached to the beam to raise the plow 
out of the grotmd. Practically, the coulter is regarded as 
essential for the majority of conditions, and in the absence 
of recent tests it may be assumed that the thin edge of the 
coulter saves power in cutting the furrow wall as compared 
with the rather blunt shin of the plow bottom. 

From the variation in the shape of plows designed for dif- 
ferent conditions we are led to expect great difference in draft 
in the same soil. In the Enghsh experiments already quoted 
there was a difference of 46 per cent, between the plows having 
the lightest and the heaviest draft under the same conditions; 
53 per cent, was the mayimum difference in tests in 1850 by 
the New York Agricultural Society. Sanborn found varia- 
tions in sulky plows ranging from 5.9 to 7.5 lbs. per square 
inch of cross section, and in another experiment from 5.15 
to 6.28 lbs. in walking plows, all furrows being of the same size. 
King reports a comparison of the draft of sod and stubble 
plows in clover sod, two years old, as wet as could be worked. 
The fiUTOWs were approximately 5.5 x 14.4 inches. The sod 
plow had a draft of 4.45 lbs. per inch and the stubble plow 
5.38 lbs. The difference, .93 lb., is mainly due to the work of 
pulverization, which is added by the stubble plow to that of 
cutting, lifting, and turning. At the Winnipeg motor contest 
in July, 1909, one make of engine gang plows averaged about 
2.5 lbs. per inch lighter in drtift than the other, all conditions 
being equal. Not only the shape but the weight and adjust- 
ment of different plows must be taken into consideration, how- 


The angle of the share with the landside is an important 
factor, and must be adapted to different soils. For instance, 
in Colorado, in dry alfalfa fields, a plow with an acute angle 
will dodge the roots, while one having a share at nearly a right 
angle to the landside will chip up the baked ground and break 
or cut the roots cleanly. In mellow loam the slanting cut must 
be used. In this case the soil is not firm enough to hold the 
roots taut, hence they double over and clog a share which is 
set at a wide angle. 

Soils differ greatly in their cohesive properties. The average 
draft of nine plows in an old English test, for a furrow 5x9 
inches in each of five different soils, was as follows: Loamy 
sand, 227 lbs.; sandy loam, 250 lbs.; moory soil, 280 lbs.; 
strong loam, 440 lbs. ; blue clay, 661 lbs. ; a difference between 
extremes of 194 per cent. An average of fifty-seven of Pro- 
fessor Sanborn's tests on varying soils in Missouri in 1888 
gave a draft of 5.26 lbs. per square inch in area of the cross 
section of the furrow slice turned. In Utah, several years 
later, the same number of similar tests averaged 5.94 lbs. per 
inch. Four hundred and fifty tests in an Illinois cornfield aver- 
aged 4.76 lbs. In Missouri 500 lbs. turned a 7 x 16 inch furrow 
on timothy. Over 600 lbs. was needed for the same furrow in 
red clover in Utah, and still more for alfalfa. Seven trials on 
clover gave an average of 6.47 lbs. per inch, and six on oat 
stubble gave 4.68 lbs. At the Winnipeg motor contests of 
1909 and 1910 the average draft per 14-inch bottom, going three 
one half to four inches deep in virgin gumbo sod, was 770 lbs. 
and 795 lbs., respectively, or 13.75 to 16.3 lbs. per inch. These 
and other figures might be cited to illustrate the difference 
iu draft due to soil conditions, but even relative figures are 
very few. 

It may be said that for ordinary depths and widths of plowing 
the draft per square inch of cross-section ranges from about 
three pounds in sandy soil to seven or eight in clay, six or 
seven in tame clover sod, and ten to fifteen pounds in virgin 



prairie sod. The draft of a 6 x 14 inch furrow would present 
an extreme range of from 250 to 900 lbs., with 400 to 500 lbs. 
as an average for old land in the Middle West. 

The amount of moisture in the soil affects the draft, as the 
soil kernels are more easily sheared when wet. In two sets 
of tests on clover sod, dry soil caused from 142 to 144 per cent, 
increase in draft over moist soil. In com stubble in Illinois, 
the same soil when so dry as to be loosened in chunks averaged 
4.93 lbs. per square inch, as compared with 4.67 lbs. when 
too wet for good plowing, and the same when in ideal condition. 
In this series 150 tests were made by Professor Ocock on each 
soil condition; hence the average is remarkably accurate. 
The deeper soil layers contain more moisture, which is probably 
as important an item as the proportionate decrease in cutting 
edge for deep furrows. Ocock's thesis experiments showed 
a gradual decrease in draft with an increase in depth except 
in one case, for which no explanation can be given. In dry 
com stubble thirty tests at a depth of five inches averaged 4 
per cent, lighter than the same number at one inch deeper. 
The accompanying table from this source shows the draft per 
square inch in five tests of each of six different plow bottoms, 
used on a single frame, in each of three different soil condi- 
tions at five different depths. All tests were on the same field 
in uniform soil, but at different dates. 



















Average 1 
all depths j 







Several other points might be noted, including a saving of 
7.5 per cent, by lengthening the hitch with a 13-foot chain; 
the increase in draft noted in a previous chapter, due to the 
downward and landward suction of the plow point; and the 
slight increase in draft of wheeled plows on grades, but the 
factors already discussed are the most important. 

A better understanding of the draft of plows would un- 
doubtedly lead to greater profit and more humane treatment 
of animals. In old land the average draft per square inch of 
cross section probably ranges from five to seven pounds. 
For a furrow 6 x 12 inches, the total draft would be from 
350 to 450 pounds, while the average durable working draft 
of a horse is found to be from one tenth to one eighth his 
weight. Three 1200-pound horses on such a furrow would 
probably strike the average farmer as a waste of horseflesh, 
but the result of too little power is to be seen in the womout 
condition of the work stock at the end of the plowing season. 
A wagon of 3000 pounds gross load on a sharp incline gave only 
half the draft that a furrow 15 inches wide did on the level. 
An all-day pull of twice that, or three tons, uphill would be 
regarded as out of the question, yet two horses are frequently 
called upon to do as much in plowing. In consequence, one 
of several things must happen: Either the team must lose 
in condition; much more food must be suppUed than is ordi- 
narily required to generate a unit of force, since above a certain 
limit a lower percentage b assimilated; or the quality of plowing 
is lowered, which is the greatest loss of all. 



MEAGRE as are the comparative draft data on 
plows, they are ample as compared with those on 
implements of other kinds. Practically no draft 
tests have been made of modem tillage imple- 
ments; hence, the draft can be approximated only by com- 
paring the number of horses used on implements of different 
sizes. Outside of the plow the ordinary drag harrow, the 
disk harrow, and the clod crusher or pulverizer are the 
principal tillage implements used in the North. The 
following table gives a sort of comparison of these three on the 
basis of the horses used to pull them, allowing 150 pounds as 
the effective pull of each horse: 




Width, feet 




Wdght. total 




" per foot 




Horses required 




Approz. draft 




Diaft per foot 




The above comparison cannot be regarded as more than 
a rough approximation. Four horses are often needed to pull 
a seven-foot disk harrow with 16-inch disks, while the 
eight-foot harrow, with 16-inch disks, is also equipped 
with four-horse hitch. The more mellow the soil the greater 
the penetration; hence, the greater the amount of dirt moved. 
Sharpness of the disks is a factor in penetration, and a decrease 
in angle to the line of draft also increases the work done. Con- 







a s 
•■5 o 

1 .9" 



S .3 

^ :B 

n o 


sequently, an eight-foot harrow with disks at right angle to 
the tongue can be easily pulled over a hard road by one 
horse, while at the Iowa State College they have a photograph 
showing eight of their horses — eight tons of horseflesh — 
having plenty of exercise in moving two-disk harrows in a 
mellow cornfield. The condition and texture of the soil play 
as great a part in the draft as in the case of plows. 

In stiff clay land a two-horse team, weighing 2200 pounds, 
can be used on a steel spike-tooth lever harrow, cutting fifteen 
feet. However, the teeth must slant well backward, the 
driver must walk, and it will take a good many trips over the 
field to get it into condition. To accomplish much in the way 
of pulverization the teeth should be set nearly straight and at 
least one horse provided for each five-foot section. 

Crushers and pulverizers vary considerably in weight per 
foot of width. One authority says that rollers should not 
weigh more than 100 lbs. to the foot and should be at 
least 24 inches in diameter. Of course the greater the 
diameter the lighter the draft, uiJess the weight is increased 
to correspond, but at the same time the pressure per square 
inch on the ground is decreased. Ordinarily these implements 
average about 18 inches in diameter and weigh from 130 to 
150 lbs. per foot. An internal-combustion tractor, which 
had been pulling six 14-inch breaker bottoms in North Dakota, 
was able to handle three 12-foot disk drills and three 12-foot sod 
crushers, weighing 1800 lbs. each. Allowing 60 lbs. to a foot 
in vddth for each, the total draft would be 4320 lbs. At the 
Winnipeg motor contest the same year the breaking plows 
averaged over 700 lbs. to the plow; hence the draft for six 
bottoms would check up very well with the amount just as- 
sumed for the drills and crushers. 

The disk drill, and particularly the single-disk drill, is now 
practically standard. As a rule the furrow openers are spaced 
8 inches apart. Three horses will usually handle a 12-foot 
disk drill, seeding a strip 8 feet wide. Allowing 150-lb. pull 


to each horse, the draft per foot of width would be 57.5 lbs. 
Professor Davidson, of Iowa, obtained a higher draft than this, a 
single-disk drill with ten furrow openers, 8 inches apart, hav- 
ing a draft of 68.6 lbs. per foot of width. Drills usually place 
the seed about 2 inches below the surface; consequently the 
work of drilling and covering seed takes approximately the 
same power per acre-inch as the disk or drag harrows doing 
work as shown in the table. 

Mowing machines are usually operated with two horses for 
a 5 or 6 foot cut, indicating a draft of about 300 lbs. A leading 
manufacturer places the draft from 190 to 3S5 lbs. for a 
5-foot mower. Two other authorities place the draft at from 
285 to 340 lbs. for the same width. The draft may easily be 
doubled by dull knives, tight boxes, or too low speed. The 
knives are not serrated as in the case of the binder; hence about 
three times the speed of cutter bar must be maintained in 
order to cut cleanly through the tough stems of forage grasses. 
The 6-foot mower will of course require more power than the 
5-foot, but not in proportion to the extra cut. In one test, 
five mowers run in gear but not cutting showed an average 
draft of 154 lbs. While cutting the average was 268 lbs., show- 
ing that 57§ per cent, of the draft was due to the running of the 
machine. The actual work of cutting apparently consumed 
about 23 lbs. per foot. In an actual test of a 4i-foot and a 
6-foot mower of the same make the drafts were 203 lbs. and 
263 lbs., respectively. This shows about 34 lbs. of draft for 
each added foot cut. However, the extra weight of frame and 
the added size of bearings increased the draft somewhat. It 
is evident that the wide cut mowers are economical in the same 
way that the engine is economical when running at high per- 
centage of its rating, less being wasted in internal friction. 

The kind of grass cut and the thickness of stand have an 
important bearing on draft, but, owing to different speeds of 
cutter bar, different mowers show lighter draft in different 
grasses. In an experiment by Sanborn, in which five mowers 


made twelve trial mm, all showed the heaviest draft on a 
3}-ton crop of timothy. Two showed a Ughter draft on a 2i-ton 
crop of alfalfa than on a field of wild hay, which was very 
thick at the bottom. The other three, running at higher speed, 
handled the dense stand of fine grass better than alfalfa. 

Six-foot binders range in draft from 300 to 500 lbs., requir- 
ing three or more horses to pull them at a speed high enough to 
do good work. Professor Davidson quotes tests showing 314 lbs. 
as the average of two 6-foot machines, or 5§ lbs. to the foot. 
To some extent the same statement as to economy in cutting 
a wide swath might be made as with mowers. However, the 
binder must elevate and bind the extra grain at some additional 
expenditure of power; 12-fo6t headers require from 600 to 800 
lbs., or from 50 to 70 lbs. per foot cut. A header binder of the 
same size will require from 100 to 200 lbs. extra to operate the 
binding attachment. More horses are more commonly used 
on binders than on mowers in proportion to draft. Since there 
are more opportunities for sluggish movement of the straw to 
clog the working parts, a high speed must be maintained. The 
average farm horse is able to maintain a pull of 150 lbs. only 
by reducing the net speed to two miles per hour or less. To 
maintain two and one half miles per hour, at which speed the 
machines work to best advantage, more power is required. 

There are probably more data available as to the draft of 
wagons than any other piece of farm equipment. The height 
and width of wheels, the position of the load, the angle of 
traces, speed of travel, lubrication, character of road surface, 
grade, and many other factors enter into the question of draft 
of vehicles. The higher the wheel, the less the draft, in pro- 
portion to the draft of the total weight of load and vehicle. 
Road surfaces are never entirely level and wheels are con- 
tinually encountering obstacles. The higher the wheel, the 
less the percentage of grade which each obstacle opposes. Con- 
sequently, less momentary force is required to lift the load over 
the obstacle. This process is constantly repeated; hence, 


high wheels and smooth roads contribute to light draft. The 
harder the road surface, the less do the wheels depress the 
surface soil. Since the force pulling the load is constantly 
endeavoring to lift it to the surface, the eflfect on the wheel is 
that of constantly rolling up an inclined plane, the gradient 
of which is determined by the percent, of the radius of the wheel 
which is below the surface of the ground. This fact largely 
accounts for the low figure of from 8 to 10 lbs. of draft per gross 
ton on railways as compared to 150 lbs. on ordinary dirt road. 

The width of wheels affects the draft differently xmder 
different circumstances. In general the wide tire gives from 
20 to 120 per cent, less draft than the narrow tire on the same 
size of wheel. However, when the dust is deep, or when there 
is a thin coating of mud with a hard surface below it, the 
narrow tire pulls easier. This is probably because the wheel 
must sooner or later sink to the hard surface and a narrow 
tire encoimters less resistance. Again, where there is only one 
wide tired wagon in a community, and this wagon must 
continually travel in ruts made by narrow tires, the work of 
filling up these ruts plus that of carrying the load makes the 
wide-tired wagon pull harder. 

Each rise of one foot in 100 adds 20 lbs. to the draft of each 
ton, including the weight of vehicle. On a good macadam road 
the draft per ton is only about 60 lbs.; hence, a rise of only 
52.8 feet to the mile adds a third to the draft. The better the 
road, the worse is the effect of grade, since a greater load can 
be hauled on the level, whereas on the hill the action of gravity 
is independent of the ground friction. It is for this reason that 
railways spend immense sums in cutting down grades. 

Road surfaces greatly affect the draft. Taking the draft 
on a plank road as 100, the draft on other surfaces in a certain 
test was as follows: Macadam road, 152 to 220; gravel road, 
300 to 318; common dirt road, 300 to 509. The lowest draft 
on a plank road was 25 lbs. per ton, and the highest on a dirt 
road was 224 lbs. per ton. Other tests have shown up as high 


as 700 lbs. per ton on soft ground; hence, it is hard to make a 
comparison of the draft of wagons with other imple- 
ments. However, two horses can usually be depended upon to 
draw continuously about 3500 lbs. of gross load on ordinaiy 
country roads. 

Lubrication is another important factor in the draft of all 
wheeled implements. Sanborn reports that a wagon weighing 
3300 lbs. with load, took a pull of 294 lbs. with no grease and 
243 lbs. where lard was used. Between these two, taking 
lard as 100, the comparative draft with other lubricants was 
as follows: Axle grease, 100.7; cylinder oil, 104.3; castor oil, 
106.7; lubricating oil, 112.1; coal oil, 117.6. However, con- 
sidering the small effect of axle friction as compared to earth 
resistance, the above results seem exaggerated. 

The draft of wagons increases with the speed of travel. 
In an experiment in England the same load was drawn at 
varying speeds over the same road, which included a variety 
of grades. Taking the draft at four miles per hour as 100, 
the relative draft was 104 six miles, 109 at eight miles, and 
115.8 at ten miles per hour. 

Owing to the countless factors that affect the draft of 
implements, machines, and wagons, it is apparent that draft 
tests, under different conditions, are of little comparative value. 
Taken absolutely, however, they give a good line on what either 
a horse or a tractor should be expected to accomplish. A 
wider use of the dynamometer, in connection with the exercise 
of abundant common-sense, would undoubtedly result in more 
humane treatment for animals and greater service from 
traction engines. 



FOR nearly a century after James Watt had solved the 
secret of burning fuel to produce power, steam did 
nothing notable to relieve man's heaviest task, that of 
turning over the soil each year to produce a crop. Willing 
inventors were numerous enough, and sheaves of patent claims 
bore testimony of the efforts made to substitute iron and 
chemical energy for the plow animal's muscle. Judging from 
the bulk of the early ideas expressed in this manner, few men 
had even a faint conception of the enormous forces and resist- 
ances with which they would have to deal in the solution 
of the problem. 

The earliest successful appUcation of mechanical power to 
the plow seems to have been made in England, about 1850. 
A portable steam engine and a windlass were then used to wind 
up a cable attached to what was known as a balance plow, i. e., 
a wheeled frame carrying two gangs of plows, one right hand and 
the other left hand, set facing each other. One gang was 
dn^ped into the ground and the other tilted out by the same 
motion, the plow being ready to start immediately on the return 
journey without being turned around. In order to pull the 
plow back and forth across the field, the cable was first passed 
aroimd either a triangle or a quadrangle on pulleys. Two of 
the pulleys with automatic anchors were moved in parallel 
paths along opposite sides of the field at right angles te the 
furrow, the engine remaining stationary. The anchors moved 
alternately forward the width of the strip plowed, to guide the 



With walking plows in Ohio 

With horse gangs in Minnesota 

With disk plows in the Northwest. (Note the size of the crew) 


plow as it passed across the field. This was known as the 
"round-about" system. Somewhat later a single traction 
engine with a winding drum was substituted for one of the mov- 
able anchors and the windlass. The great length of cable re- 
quired and the clumsiness of the tackle hampered the work, 
and in due time a second traction engine similarly equipped 
was substituted for the remaining anchor. This form of cable 
plowing has been developed very successfully by English firms 
and is still used from one end of the world to the other. 

Power plowing in the United States has reached its highest 
development upon the extensive areas of the Western plains. 
Owing to the size of the fields and the excessive cost of the cable 
equipment, the latter was never successfully introduced there 
in the common system of small grain culture. As early as 
1870, natives of Kansas were startled by the appearance of an 
upright steam traction engine to which were attached a number 
of horse plows. Ten or fifteen years later steam plowing began 
to be common in California. About the same time, general 
substitution of the traction engine for horses in driving 
threshers stimulated the desire for mechanical power for 
plowing in the Central states. 

Failure was the result of nearly every venture during these 
early years. The only engines available were of small size, 
designed more for belt power than for pulling. When enough 
common horse plows were hitched together to take up the 
power such an engine could develop, the outfit proved to be 
unwieldy, especially id turning. In addition to one man 
at each plow as before, it was necessary to have another to 
drive the engine and another with a team to haul fuel and water. 
There was no saving in labor; in fact, quite the reverse. The 
light, narrow cast-iron gearing had been designed only for 
moving the tractor from place to place with a light separator. 
Expensive breakage followed the attempt to transmit power 
enough through it to pull plows. The plows were neither suitable 
nor strong enough; the outfits had small capacity; the operators 


were inexperienced; and the cost of maintaining a horse was so 
much less than at present that animal power suffered no real 

With the growth of grain farming in the West the demand 
for larger and faster threshing outfits resulted in a consider- 
able increase in size of steam engines. These, however, were 
designed with reference to the work they could deliver through 
a belt, rather than at the drawbar; hence the growing use of 
these engines for plowing resulted in the same conditions as 
before. Steam plowing was generally regarded as a large 
farmer's fad, even by manufacturers, but the demand for a 
better plowing jwwer became so insistent about the beginning 
of the new century that engine makers began one by one to 
comply with it. The first step was merely to increase the size 
of gearing, axles, shafts, etc., but at length the pressure and the 
outlook for profitable business led manufactiu-ers to design 
plowing engines of better material and proportions from the 
groimd up. The steam-plowing boom, which had waited only 
for serviceable equipment, was then on. 

The steam-plowing engine, in less than five years, reached 
a high state of efficiency as compared with the former types. 
In large units it proved to be most economical, especially after 
suitable plows were developed. The power required for 
plowing a given area was so much greater than for threshing it 
that plowing engines too large in size for economical use at 
other work were soon in demand. Skilled operators were 
developed, equipment improved, and more uses found for 
engines. The practice of steam plowing was rapidly extended. 
Vast tracts of level territory were opened where the acreage 
was so great as to discourage the idea of turning it with single 
teams and horse plows. Prairies were tamed in a twinkling. 
Large areas which would otherwise have remained unculti- 
vated were brought quickly into productiveness. They have 
since been cropped with a minimum of horse and man labor, 
which has constantly become more expensive. 


Taking water on the move 

Disking and drilling at one trip 

No stops'to fill the seed boxes, and the weight of the seed helps 

pack the ground 


The path was then clear for the gas tractor. The fanner 
had been educated to traction farming. The desire for economi- 
cal motors of smaller size, the scarcity and high price of labor, 
the difficulty of obtaining cheap coal; and the limited supply 
of good water in some sections created the demand. Designers 
of all but the first few gas tractors started with the certain 
knowledge that their engines would have to meet the severest 
possible test — i. e., plowing. In consequence not all the 
costly experiments of steam plowing engines were repeated. 

The future of the gas tractor has been bright from the mo- 
ment that the first practical machine was placed on the market. 
After they were once successfully introduced their manufac- 
ture increased by phenomenal steps. Standardization has 
proceeded with marvelous rapidity, and the gas tractor to-day 
stands ready for hard and lasting service, in less than half the 
years it took to make the steam plow even practical. It is 
now so far perfected as to be remarkably efficient, and is rapidly 
freeing itself from the charge of unreliability. Moreover, it 
presents a wide field for improvement, while both the horse and 
the steam tractor seem to have approached the probable 
limit of immediate perfection, and will progress much more 
slowly in the coming generation. 


WITH the coming of the intenuil-combustion motor 
interest in application of mechanical power to farm 
work has broken out afresh in all directions. The 
system of direct traction, wherein a self-propelling 
prime mover draws behind it the plows, binders, or other working 
devices, has, for the present at least, been accepted as standard 
by the American trade and public. The direct traction motor, 
which is built to resist the tremendous tug of a number of plows 
at the drawbar, is also best adapted for pulling the other field 
implements and machines, all of which have been developed for 
transforming an animal's straight pull into linear, reciprocating, 
or rotary working motion. 

By linear working motion we mean a straightforward move- 
ment, such as we find in the plow or the harrow. The imple- 
ment's peculiar shape is relied upon to produce the desired effect 
upon the soU. Reciprocating motion is seen in the cutting 
knife of the binder or mowing machine. The linear pull of 
the horse is transformed first into rotary motion by the drive- 
wheel, gears, etc., thence into reciprocating motion by a crank 
disk and pitman. Rotary working motion of the simplest kind 
is seen in the disk harrow, the cornstalk cutter, the alfalfa 
renovator, and the stubble digger. Here the work is done by 
wheels, which not only cany the weight of the frame, but are 
of the shape required for the work in hand. More complex 
rotary working parts are found in the cylinder type of hay 
loader and hay rake, in the hay tedder and the manure 



spreader. Stationary machines, as a rule, use rotary motion, 
though, as in the threshing machine, some reciprocating parts 
are often added. 

In Europe, and to a less extent in this country, great efforts 
are being made to develop substitutes for the direct traction 
method. Several schools of inventors have grown into 
prominence, each with a different idea as to how best to 
apply mechanical power to the soil. The majority advocate 
direct traction. Another large and weU-established school 
would have the power stationary, or at least portable, the 
worldng implements being drawn back and forth by cables. 
A third group insists that motive and working power be com- 

Cable plowing scene 

bined in one self-propelling frame or unit, while a fourth ad- 
vocates the use of animals for propelling the outfit and mechani- 
cal power for driving the working parts. Nor can we overlook 
entirely the efforts of men to replace the power of heat engines 
by electricity from some cheap and abundant supply. 


As we have seen, the use of a cable and winding drum for 
pulling plows is one of the earliest ideas in mechanical culti- 
vation. A short cable, along which the motor propels itself 
by winding the cable around a drum mounted on the frame, has 
abo been in quite common use for pulling engines out of di£S- 


culties. Within the last few years several plowing motors based 
on the latter principle have been brought to the working stage, 
using a pulley around which the cable passes only once or twice; 
the cable otherwise remains stationary, fastened at both ends, 
or at least at the end of the field toward which the machine 
is proceeding. As the pulley is made to revolve by the motor, 
the friction between its surface and the loops in the cable be- 
comes great enough to propel the outfit. The loss in slippage 
of the cable on the pulley is claimed to be slight. This system 
appeals forcibly to those who have seen how ineffectual at 
times are the efforts of any type of traction wheel and grouters 
to grip soft ground. One successfid motor of this type was 
ordinarily propelled by traction wheels, but brought the cable 
into play automatically when the slippage of the wheels ex- 
ceeded a certain per cent. This rendered the tractor available 
for use where it was impracticable to use the cable, as on roads. 
The most successful apphcation of power through cables 
is, of course, the double-engine and cable method of steam plow- 
ing. In this system steel cables, 80 to 100 rods long, are 
attached to the implement, which may be a balance plow, a 
cultivator, a beet-lifter, or a frame under which harrows, rollers, 
etc., may be attached. One engine remains idle, paying out 
the cable, while the other winds it up on a dnmi mounted on 
a vertical axis imdemeath the boiler. The traction wheels 
of both engines remain stationary while the cable is being 
woimd. In this way the entire brake horsepower becomes avail- 
able for pulling the plows, there being no loss through slippage 
or the movement of the tractor's weight across the fields. 
Slippery surfaces do not affect the tractive efficiency, and in 
many cases permanent roads along the sides of the fields insure 
firm footing for the traction wheels at all times. Another 
advantage lies in the absence of any packing of the soil. The 
shape of the field has less influence on economy than with the 
direct traction system, but owing to the length and weight of 


cables required the use of the cable system is necessarily re- 
stricted to small fields. 

The cable outfits are used to a great extent in beet and cane- 
sugar cultivation, being well adapted to extremely deep plow- 
ing. Bulletin 170, United States Bureau of Plant Industry, 
makes the following statement regarding their economy in , 

Flowing is done at a depth of 12 to 14 inches for sugar beets, and in heavy 
adobe soU from ten to twenty acres are covered per day. Light cultivation 
is done at a depth of 7 to 9 inches and deep tillage at from 14 to 16 inches, the 
cultivators being 16 feet and 10 feet in width respectively. Cultivating is 
done at a rate of twenty-five to thirty-five acres and harrowing at the rate of 
fifty acres per day. A special implement, lifting six rows of beets at a depth 
of 12 to 16 inches, is used in harvesting, and from fifteen to twenty-five acres 
are covered in a day when necessary. No time is lost in taking supplies, as 
the engines are stationary, and little time is wasted at the ends of the furrows, 
one engine being ready to start pulling as soon as the other finishes. 

From five to eight men are used in plowing, including a foreman, two en- 
^eers, one or two teamsters, two plowmen, and a cook. From six to eight 
barrels of crude oil daily supply both engines. The expenses, not including 
interest and depreciation, are about $30 a day, or from $2 to $3 an acre. In 
comparing this with the cost of operating direct traction outfits, the great 
difference in depth of plowing must be kept in mind. Interest and de- 
preciation charges are heavy, though, the outfits are in use the greater 
part of the year. The investment for each outfit, including freight and duty, 
is from $25,000 to $30,000. The cables, which cost from $600 to $900 each, 
last from .six to eighteen months in continuous use, and bad water destroys flues 
in from six to twelve months; otherwise the outfits are capable of long service. 

In view of the heavy initial and operating cost, the use of this equipment 
is restricted to large enterprises. One ranch in California uses five sets of tackle 
in handling 10,000 acres of sugar beets, using horses only in seeding and hauling. 
Each outfit is said to displace 120 horses and the necessary drivers. Another 
outfit, operating eleven months in the year, handles 1300 acres of beets.' Others 
are to be found in large vineyards, while a large number are used in sugar-cane 
culture in Hawaii. While these outfits are not suitable for use on a small 
scale, it would seem that a modification, embodying the niunerous advantages, 
and adapted to more general use, might be produced in the United States and 
sold at a price within the reach of small operators. 

The double cost of these outfits, the excessive wear on the 
expensive wire cables, the slow rate of work, and the lack of 
adaptability to large fields have greatly restricted their 
use. Internal-combustion outfits in imitation have never 
been developed to a wide extent, though there have been some 
recent developments along that line in Continental £}uiope. 



The "automobile plow" — i. e., a self-propelling, compact 
unit, capable of turning in small quarters — has a large body 
of advocates. Many experimental tractors, combined with 
plows hung directly under or on the frame, have been developed 
in different forms. The plows can usually be lifted clear of 
the ground and the tractor backed aroimd to cut a square 
comer. On one of these machines a gang of plows is mounted 
between the drivers and the front wheels. Back of the drivers 
follow a harrow of special design and a clod crusher, while 
seeders also may be attached. The plows are shoved, rather 
than pulled, and one drive wheel must always run on the 
plowed ground. Auto-disk plows have been attempted by 
at least two or three inventors in this country, and several in 
Europe, but without marked success. The effort is made in 
some of the latter to have the plows transport the weight of the 
outfit as well as turn the soil. 

Few auto-plows have reached the marketing stage. A motor 
adapted primarily to plowing, with plows combined in the 
frame, is at a disadvantage in performing other operations. 
A harvester, for example, cannot be hung under the tractor 
frame. If it be attached to the rear the strain is different, 
with a consequent upsetting of balance and probable loss of 
tractive efficiency. Doubtless we shall some day see for the 
small farmer a transferable power plant, with a base for it 
on each tilling and harvesting machine, which will be made 
self-propelling without duphcating the most costly part of the 
equipment — i. e., the motor itself. 

Another tyi)e of motor which propels itself by traction wheels 
is equipped at the rear with a chain-driven cylinder studded 
with steel hooks. The cylinder may be run at different speeds 
and depths, this, as well as the forward speed, regulating 
the amount and quality of work done. The tearing action of 
the cylinder leaves the soil in finely divided state, creating a 


good seed bed without further travel over the ground. In 
this way, as with a traction engine pulling plows, disks, and 
harrows at one time, the traction wheels are always on solid 
footing, and there is less waste of power in propulsion. Several 
machines of this general character are now claimiag attention, 
abroad. One great objection to this principle, especially in 
the New World, is that the burying of vegetation is often the 
prime object of plowing. The cylinder would imdoubtedly 
mix this trash with the soil more thoroughly than the plow, 
yet the lighter material may usually be found on the surface 
in considerable quantities. 

A South Dakota college professor has attached to the rear 
of a wide-wheeled tractor a spiral tillage device which is actuated 
by a chain and sprocket. A Kansas farmer repeats an idea 
recently brought out in France — i. e., a series of small 
plows connected by radial rods to a rotating shaft, each one 
imitating the action of a spade upon the soil. In another 
outfit, made in Italy, the ordinary plowshare is replaced by 
a pair of auger-like screws which precede the machine and are 
rotated in directions opposite to each other as the machine 
moves forward. 

The use of electricity in plowing has been limited. The'' 
self-contained electric motor has never been perfected, at 
least in an economical way. To generate, by means of primary 
cells, the amount of power required even for very light work is 
out of the question, owing to the cost, bulk, and general unsuita- 
bility of the necessary batteries. The storage battery, which 
has been successfully used on small automobiles and trucks, 
is too bulky, costly, and expensive in operation to be practicable 
on a heavy plowing machine. 

One development in this line is the self-contained "gasoline- 
electric" motor. In this the power of a gas engine is trans- 
formed by a generator into electricity, and this used to drive 
the machine. In some present motor trucks all four wheels 
are driven, with a small motor on each wheel. A storage 


battery is needed to care for the peak loads on starting and 
elsewhere, thus reducing the size of engine required. The 
resulting combination is convenient and flexible for certain 
purposes, but very high in cost in proportion to power. Steer- 
ing, reversing, etc., are accomplished without gears, and the 
great possible variation in speed could not be obtained as simply 
in any other way. There is, of course, considerable loss in trans- 
forming rotary motion into electrical energy and back again 
into rotary motion. However, a great deal of attention is 
being given to the development of this type of motor truck, 
and it is quite possible that some of its advantages may in due 
time be embodied in a plowing tractor. 

Electricity from a central plant, wherever available at all, 
can usually be had quite cheaply, especially where there is 
abundant water power. Long-distance transmission lines 
bring the current from generators located at mountain water 
sites, thus using the "white coal" man has been wasting for 
centuries and now, in this country, proposes to mortgage to a 
few far-sighted monopolists. The use of this power for plowing 
at once imphes the necessity for a much less mobile form of 
motor. It is obviously impracticable to stretch trolley wires 
and lay tracks at intervals across a farm field. Something 
on the order of the cable system must be employed with its 
added expense and other disadvantages. The simplest form 
necessitates two motors proceeding in parallel paths at right 
angles to the furrows as in the double-engine cable system. 
Such an outfit has already been put into operation on a small 
scale by an European inventor. 


A FOURTH school insists that the prime idea in 
mechanical cultivation should by no means be to 
take implements, which have hitherto been drawn 
by horses or oxen, and make them self-propelling. 
Ndther would it hold to the present idea of the plow to the 
extent of blindly retaining those of its characteristics which 
hinder the use of mechanical power to the best advantage. 
So efficient are the modem plow and linear motion in turning 
the earth that any suggestion of improvement takes root 
slowly. Yet many obstacles have arisen to prevent the wheels 
of the tractor from being as efficient as the four feet of the 
animal. No economical engine has the overload capacity of 
the horse. No horse has the economy of the stationary engine. 
It is by no means settled that soil may not be better pulverized 
by other means than the plow. Why not, then, some combina- 
tion of the tractive advantage of the animal, the superiority 
of the mechanical motor for stationary work, and some pulveriz- 
ing device best adapted to the power available for driving it? 

The inanimate or mechanical motor should be used in every 
case where a simple, unifonn, rotary working force is required, 
such as that produced by the horse in a tread or sweep power. 
Horses and oxen, dogs and sheep, even men and women are 
required in Europe to nu stationary farm machines by muscle 
power. The mechanical motor in these countries will enable 
this work to be done ten times cheaper, and humanely displace 
the living muscle. In regions where animals are too few in 



numbers, and in wann countries where the animal motor is 
very inefficient, only one course is possible — the utilization 
of the mechanical motor for propulsion as well as for the opera- 
tion of machines. In temperate regions, however, especially 
where fields are small, and where moderate work the year round 
is actually essential to the health of animals, the advisability 
of mechanical traction in small units is more open to question. 

The soU is the workshop of the plow or the cultivator. The 
arable earth forms the raw material to be worked, but, contrary 
to what happens in the factory, the machine must go to the 
material and work it up in its original place. If the latter work 
can be so regulated as to require a constant amount of power, 
a mechanical motor must, by its nature, be wonderfully efficient. 

Distinction must be made between the effective work of the 
farm machine and its propulsion over the ground. As the 
movement of the machine is only an accessory operation and 
not productive, it is one on which the least possible effort 
should be expanded. The productive force is that which cuts 
and turns the earth. With the animal motor this distinction 
is lumecessary, since the oidy movement of which the horse 
is capable — i. e., forward or linear motion — has had to suffice 
for both the propelling and operation of the machine. Advo- 
cates of the fourth system insist that non-recognition of this 
distinction, and the consequent efforts merely to substitute 
a mechanical tractor for an animate motor, have delayed the 
solution of the problem of "moto-culture" ten or fifteen years. 

To fit the foregoing analysis, a cultivator is being equipped 
with rotary working parts operated by a mechanical motor, 
animals being used to draw it. The force required to move 
it over the ground should not be great, as Yankee ingenuity 
has demonstrated in adapting mechanical power to harvesting 
in small units. The harvester, or binder, for instance, weighs 
only 1500 to 1800 lbs., which is not an excessive load for one 
large horse, and a very light load for two. A gasoline motor, 
either mounted on the frame or carried on a separate truck and 


cxmnected by a universal joint, operates the binder under the 
most severe conditions. Two horses easily pull the entire 
outfit, yet three to five horses are ordinarily used when the 
cutting and binding mechanisms are driven by the bull-wheel. 

A combination tillage machine might be built light enough so 
that on a smooth piece of land two horses would pull it for ten 
to twelve hours per day without being abnormally fatigued. 
A 2-h.p. gasoline motor for traction could not replace these 
two horses, even on STiooth ground. Taking into account emer- 
gencies, the losses by internal friction and slippage of tractor 
wheels, probably 6 h.p. would be necessary, and much more 
on grades. Animals may be allowed to rest from time to time 
for a fresh start on rolling land, and thus will negotiate steep 
grades without assistance. The gasoline motor gains nothing 
by resting, except a certain amount of momentum in the fly- 
wheel. The steam tractor, by using a surplus of steam and 
waiting now and then to replenish it, may mount surprising 
grades, but it is not so well adapted to use in small imits. 
It is this diflFerence which makes the animate motor really valu- 
able for traction, because it has at its command, at a given 
moment, a motor power two to five times greater than the 
effort normally necessary. If the propulsion of the machine 
requires ordinarily 2 h.p. and at times 6 or even 15 h.p., then a 
mechanical tractor must be chosen with reference to the maxi- 
mum requirements. A motor cultivator requiring at all times 
10 h.p. for its effective work and 6 h.p. at the outside for 
traction, would work advantageously with a 16-h.p. motor, 
but one requiring a 25-h.p. motor where most of the time only 
12 to 16 h.p. is necessary is not an economical proposition. 

The inventors claim that a combined machine will as surely 
replace the four-horse plow as the band saw has replaced the 
back-and-forth motion of the band saw — as the grindstone 
has, in factories, displaced the whetstone and the file. They 
overlook the vital fact that, in the plow, the harrow and the 
ordinary hay rake, there is no lost stroke as with the saw, and 


noenergy is wasted in preparing for the next working movement. 
Furthermore, soils vary in their resistance to the plow, even in 
the same field, and to a much greater extent than grain before 
the harvester. To cut a furrow of uniform depth and width 
requires, therefore, an easy means of varying either the efiFec- 
tive power, or else the speed of travel. It would not be easy 
to adjust the gait of a team to the amount of effective work 
being done upon the soil by an independent motor, nor will a 
small cheap gasoline engine work efficiently under a wide 
range of load. 

On the whole, the argument is strongly suggestive of possible 
lines of development for small farms. Incidentally, this school, 
through its organ. La Genie Rural, proposes "moto-culture" 
as a term to designate the new methods of tillage that are being 
introduced. Owing to the confusing and poorly descriptive 
terms we now use — including "power plowing," "mechanical 
plowing," "steam plowing," "gasoline plowing," and "traction 
plowing," "mechanical tillage," "power cultivation," etc. — 
some short, comprehensive phrase such as "moto-culture" 
deserves wide employment in designating the whole field of 
mechanical power in relation to the soil. 


UNIVERSAL moto-culture involves the solution 
of the small farmer's problem. Dreamers argue 
that the ideal farm is the little farm well tilled, 
because of the independent home Ufe which it 
brings. The gas engine will come nearer solving the problem 
of mechanical power on this ideal farm than steam. The former 
is much more economical in small units, and in addition its 
convenience and the possibility of lightness which it brings 
will make its place secure on the small farm. 

Unless horses continue indefinitely to increase in value, it 
is doubtful if the durable, all-purpose small tractor will ever 
be as cheap in first cost as the number of horses it will replace. 
Moreover, it can never be as. economical in various kinds of 
work. In a team of four horses we have four units, which may 
be used either singly, in pairs, or all together. Each imit has 
an overload capacity, as we have seen, of practically 400 per 
cent. Therefore, we might have a variation anywhere from 
the f h.p., which one horse will develop continually and 
economically to the 10 or 12 h.p. which four acting together, 
might exert at one instant. The gas tractor will operate most 
economically between 70 to 95 per cent, of its maximum load. 
All its cylinders must act when one does, and there can be no 
such wide range of adaptability as will be found in the four- 
horse team. 

It is doubtful if the really efficient farm tractor can be an 
all-round machine. The requirements of the farm as to 



traction power are far too widely separated. No one has ever 
asked a single horse to be an efficient draft animal and a swift- 
going roadster at the same time. Even on the farm the pro- 
prietor recognizes the difference in type, and usually keeps 
one or more horses almost solely for driving, though avail- 
able for auxiliary power in the field if needed. Why not 
then look forward to the time when the power require- 
ments of the farm shall have been divided into two classes, the 
heavy and the Ught; when farm operations and farm imple- 
ments shall have been standardized as to power requirements, 
so that two tractors — one heavy and powerful, the other, 
light and nimble — shall be able to find practically uniform 
loads in all kinds of work? 

The admitted limitations to the small tractor's range of 
efificiency may lead to the development of combination machines, 
where animals provide the tractive force and motors the work- 
ing power, especially for small operators. For ordinary enter- 
prises the saving in time and himaan labor, with the gain in 
simphcity, make the direct traction system much to be pre- 
ferred. Perhaps an improvement in direct tractors might be 
effected by developing auxihary motors to be used only in 
ascending grades. This is already done in California with steam 
tractors, the auxiliary motors on heavy logging wagons being 
supplied with steam from the tractor. Similarly, road trains 
have been equipped iu Europe with a flexible-jointed shaft, 
transmitting power from a siagle engine to the wheels of each 
wagon. In many cases it is a question of traction — i. e., 
foothold, rather than of engine power, and these methods 
greatly increase the grip on the ground. 

Some of the ideas and inventions of the various schools of 
power enthusiasts are not without merit, and under future 
conditions may have real commercial value. The rotary prin- 
ciple exercises a peculiar grip on the minds of the inventors, 
owing, perhaps, to the rapidity and completeness of the results 
which it may bring about. The plow, however, has best con- 


served the animal's power, and the rotary and reciprocating 
motions of the harvester, with their loss in delivered power, 
have been suffered because there seemed no simpler way to 
produce the necessary results. Inventors still continue, never- 
theless, to bring out weird varieties of rotary digging and pul- 
verizing nwchines, earth saws, and the like, all designed to 
overcome the admitted defects of the plow. Most of these 
have run upon the rock of excessive power consumption. 
Animals, already scarce, could not be spared to draw them, 
since they attempted to do the work, not only of the plow, but 
of the harrow and the other pulverizing implements which 
follow. The cheaper and highly concentrated power of 
mechanical tractors has enabled the farmer to combine opera- 
tions without a heavy cost for maintaining the power 
plant during idle seasons, and now more and more of 
these inventions are being brought to light. Few of them 
are practicable, but they show the trend of thought and the 
direction in which improvement of moto-culture will undoubt- 
edly come. 

The constant introduction of freak machines built around 
a single meritorious idea, now, as in the past, gives the public 
an unfavorable opinion of mechanical power for tillage. The 
tractor industry was a long time regaining the public confidence 
lost during the earlier years of development, when imreliable 
engines, mounted on unmechanical frames and traction wheels, 
brought many an early purchaser grief that he published far 
and wide. So long as inventors exist, and capitalists are 
willing for the sake of profit to promote the sale of experimen- 
tal machines, the industry as a whole reaps the notoriety brought 
about by their failures. Mechanical power, however, is now so 
firmly established on the farm that its final popularity and 
general use will not be endangered by these failures, and in- 
vention along these lines is to be welcomed. The prejudice 
in favor of the horse is passing. Men have accepted the new 
order of things, and the problem now is to adapt mechanical 


power and farm methods to one another in the way that will 
give the most useful results. 

To do tills it may be necessary to revise some of our methods 
of crop production. We are apt to look upon our present 
methods as the only ones, yet we must remember that the shape 
of the plow was not finally established until late in the first 
half of the nineteenth century; that our disk harrow, our sub- 
surface packer, and in fact practically all of our tillage im- 
plements and harvesting machines have been devised within 
fifty years. We must remember they were devised to make 
use of the only power that has been available for operating 
them, and that power was exerted in a linear direction. As a 
result of copying that power, we now have reciprocating en- 
gines producing rotary power at the crankshaft; transforming 
this into a forward or linear motion, in a tractor; that again 
into the rotary motion of the binder wheel, and even finally 
into reciprocating motion again as in the binder knife, before 
the power is finally applied to work. Going around Robin Hood's 
bam is walking the straight and narrow path in comparison. 

Is the plow, for example, capable of further improvement? 
Or will it be superseded by a rotary mechanism which will per- 
form the functions of the plow and harrow combined? Pos- 
sibly something of this sort may supplant the direct tractor. 
The farm power plant must however do more to replace present 
methods than simply to prepare the soil. It may not be a wild 
dream that some day we may see a tractor with plows hitched 
under the frame, harrows or a pulverizing roller behind, pos- 
sibly a rotary cylinder with pulverizing teeth taking the place 
of all three. On the side of the machine we may find a cutter 
bar, and on top a combined harvester for threshing and sacking 
the grain all at one operation. To be a complete success, the 
machine should also bale the straw and, if possible, seed the 
next year's crop at the same time. 

The elements of all these ideas are now to be found on present 
gas tractors. We have auto hay presses, and auto threshers; 


we have scores of auto plows; we have in England an auto 
mower; we have in Georgia an auto cultivator; we have auto 
transplanters and seeders, auto cotton pickers, auto road- 
rollers, and automatic machines for accomplishing practically 
every operation. 

The beneficial results of combining operations are: First, 
to save tjme; second, by hastening the sequence of crop opera- 
tions to confine them to the period when the most favorable 
conditions of soil and climate prevail, and avoid negative 
action on the soil between successive steps; third, to save trips 
on the plowed ground; and fourth, to make up a full and 
economical load for the motor, such as is found in the combina- 
tions of plows, harrows, disks, seeders, packers, and binders 
now to be fotind on our Western prairies. With horses the 
inability to concentrate power made it necessary to separate 
operations. With mechanical power there is no reason why we 
may not look for a recombination of all the various tasks which 
can take place at or nearly the same time. 

He is a poor prophet who does not ask if in the end the 
tractor, which is now merely a substitute for what Thomas A. 
Edison calls the poorest motor ever built, will not be even 
more. It may combine in one frame a power-producing plant 
which is more efficient than the horse, and compact working 
mechanisms which are utterly impossible where the animal 
is used for power. K plowing were the only task on the farm, 
or threshing, or yet haying, some of these substitutes for direct 
traction might even now threaten the continuance of the 
latter system. No feasible method, however, approaches the 
use of the independent tractor in economy, simplicity, ver- 
satility and general efficiency. At present the problem of 
getting satisfactory machines to attach to the rear of the 
tractor seems to furnish complications enough, and the next 
generation will probably come into power before the tracer's 
supremacy over an indirect or a combined machine is seriously 


The future will see a wider variety of equipment for the ap- 
plication of power to the work of the farm than would ever 
have been possible with animal power alone. Man has made 
no fundamental change in the horse in thousands of years of 
breeding and selection. In a single generation he has produced 
mechanical motors with much greater variation in speed than 
exists between the Belgian and the thoroughbred; with vastly 
greater difference in size than between the Shire and the Shet- 
land; and with thousands of differences in design, materials, 
and construction that breeders have never been able to create 
in flesh and blood. 


THE success of a plowing outfit depends not only on 
the efficiency of the equipment, but upon the 
energy and business ability of the operator. It 
goes without saying that good equipment is the 
prime essential, but it is a common observation that all makes 
of engines and plows fail in incompetent hands. 

The most successful use of the traction engine involves 
farming on a basis of quality rather than quantity. The 
biggest handicap to the popularization of engine power has been 
slovenly work. There was a time when steam plowing was 
synonymous with poor plowing and weed-infested farms. 
Prof. Thomas Shaw, of Minnesota, now in charge of over 
forty experimental farms for a great railway system in the 
Northwest, even now goes so far as to ask if manufacturers 
cannot bind their customers to a higher quality of work than 
the majority are doing. In the past this complaint might 
have been due somewhat to crude and climisy equipment. Now, 
however, the traction engine makes quality in farming possible, 
owing to the fact that no work need be slighted for lack of 
power. The engine and plow equipment is excellent, and one 
by one other implements are being especially adapted for use 
with engines. Operators must now remember that there is 
more money in one acre of well-tilled land than in two where 
the owner's desire is simply to farm on a large scale. 

A Saskatchewan official draws a paraUel between the evolu- 
tion of a large railway system and that of custom plowing 



with tractors. On the start the demand was for mileage 
on the one hand and great capacity on the other. With 
growing competition grew the necessity for quahty in order 
to secure business, and economy to insure profits. To the 
railway there have come better roadbed, better rolling stock, 
and better service. Close observation of details cheapened 
costs, and made these improvements possible. Better engines 
and plows are now making for quality in plowing, and close 
attention to oft-repeated ejcpenses and profits is enabling 
men to maintain the more expensive equipment with satis- 
factory returns. Early progress in either case was more 
spectacular, but the later development is steadier and more 
effective. The manager of a plowing outfit must have an eye 
to the easiest profits. "Money saved is money earned." 
To reduce operating expenses is much more sensible and popu- 
lar than to increase prices. It is much more scientific than to 
increase output, especially if, as is frequently the case, com- 
petition has forced the income down to the level of former 
operating expenses. 

The operator who maintains an individual plowing outfit 
must use his ingenuity in adapting the expensive engine to 
as many other kinds of work as possible in the course of a year, 
thus dividing the fixed charges for interest and depreciation 
by as many working days as possible. The same thing is true 
of the custom operator, who, however, has the further difficul- 
ties of securing work in the face of competition, and collecting 
a fair price for his services from his customers. 

A tractor contains the capacity for tilling so many acres, 
and the greatest economy lies in working these in the shortest 
space of time. In this connection we might call attention to 
a statement by a prominent official of the Illinois Steel Com- 
pany: "There are so many tons of metal in the lining of a 
blast furnace. It is my business to see that they are gotten 
out as quickly as possible." Dr. Charles W. Elliot, former 
president of Harvard, said: "The replacement of machinery 


goes on in this country at a prodigious rate. We Americans 
use the scrap heap oftener than any other nation, but we never 
yet used it quickly enough." 

If an engine costing $2750 has a life of 1000 working days, 
which are spent during the course of five years, the charges 
for interest, depreciation and repairs may be figured at $3.52 
per day. This is figuring the annual repairs at 2 per cent, of 
the first cost and interest at 6 per cent, on the average invest- 
ment. If the same amount of work is spread out over eight 
years, the cost per working day would be $3.77; if over fifteen 
years, $4.35. These costs assume that the repairs will be the 
same in the life of the outfit, whether it lasts five or fifteen years. 
As a matter of fact, the longer the life, the greater the depre- 
ciation during idleness, and the greater the repair bill necessary 
to accomplish the same volume of work. Interest is based 
on the average inventoiy value, since depreciation is written 
off each year. This reduces the interest to a little over one 
half what it would be if based on the first cost, and the method 
is only fair, since depreciation and repairs are also charged. 
The longer the life in years for the same volume of work, the 
heavier the interest charge each day. It is therefore false 
economy to refrain from using an engine for any good purpose, 
simply to prolong its life, although every care should be taken 
to prevent unnecessary depreciation, especially during idleness. 
Nor can this paragraph be construed as an argument in favor 
of buying a short-lived engine to save interest, since depre- 
ciation is a much larger item. 

In the case of the farm owner, the labor during rush seasons 
may be greatly reduced and much time saved, if fuel and other 
materials which are known to be necessary are purchased in 
quantity and hauled to the farm for storage, during seasons 
when no other work is possible. Operators will save much 
expense and loss of time, if the equipment is thoroughly over- 
hauled prior to the beginning of the season, and worn parts 
replaced. A supply of the extras which are most frequently 


renewed should be procured and kept on hand for emergencies. 
Better prices and more prompt delivery can of course be had 
during the slack seasons. 

During the season, if repairs are needed, they should be 
ordered by wire and shipped by express, as every day's delay 
means a loss of much more than the cost of telegrams and ex- 
pressage. In all cases when ordering repairs, operators should 
be careful to give a full description. They should ascertain 
also, if possible, the number of the part, the number of the en- 
gine, and the date when it was purchased. This in itself will 
save many agonizing delays which occur when insufficient data 
are given to enable the repair man at the branch office or factory 
to locate the desired part. 

Every possible precaution should be taken to prevent 
accidents and delay. It takes approximately twenty-seven 
minutes every day of the year merely to do chores for one 
work horse; hence an hour a day is not an excessive amount 
of time to be spent by one man in looking after a machine 
capable of doing the work of twenty-five to thirty horses. 

The plowing season is short, also the threshing season. The 
time of doing the work is the constant factor; the number and 
capacity of outfits, the variable factors. The more each opera- 
tor accomplishes in a given time, the less competition he will 
have and the more service he can obtain from his engine. 
Counting only the items which are comparable to the over- 
head charges on the engine, that is, the interest, depreciation, 
shoeing, etc., we find that overhead charges amoimt to about 
$30 per year on each horse. This is divided among about 
1000 working hours, hence two horses have an overhead cost 
of 6 cents per hour and another cent can be added for the plow. 
A driver's labor costs 12 to 15 cents per hour. If the driver 
stops his team for fifteen minutes to adjust a plow, the loss 
is a trifle over 5 cents. Counting the daily overhead cost of a 
gas tractor as $4.00, the plow cost as $1.25, and the labor of 
two men as $5.00, we have a total of about 1.7 cents per minute. 


Fifteen minutes' delay to adjust a plow, or to find and tighten 
a loose bolt, means over 25 cents lost in labor and overhead 
charges, besides a greater loss from the acreage not plowed 
in season. With a steam outfit the loss in even greater. 

Men buy plowing engines to cheapen costs and insure the 
handling of large areas. Capacity is at a premium. With a 
gas tractor capable of plowing 15 to 25 acres per day the most 
costly item may lie in saving the wages of one man. One man 
alone can frequently run an outfit, but the overhead expense 
on the outfit is often equal to the wages of two. Every moment 
of the engine's time that can be saved by having an extra man 
to handle the plows, change shares, run errands, or help about 
the engine, represents money saved in overhead charges, and 
in addition to the returns at harvest time. Not only that, 
but the presence of a second man makes work easier and more 
attractive to both, if not through the occasional exchange of 
places, then through the mere fact of companionship. In the 
past the isolation of the solitary, trudging plowman added 
immeasurably to the drudgery of it all. 

In hiring labor, it is desirable to hire by the month, as in this 
case the owner has the services of the crew during the seasons 
of enforced idleness, without extra charge, while the very 
fact that laborers are paid by the month insures greater per- 
manence. Board is usually furnished by the month, and there 
is no reason why wages should not be paid on a similar basis. 
By good management, the entire crew could be kept busy on 
rainy days, and considerable time may be well spent in over- 
hauling the equipment. When wages are paid by the day, 
this work is too often neglected. 

It is even better to pay a flat rate as a basis, and a bonus for 
extra performance. One large farm pays a flat rate per acre 
for the engineer and plowman, then allows the crew a bonus 
above the ordinary rate for the whole number of acres plowed, 
if the daily acreage exceeds a given amount. Thus the laborer 
not only gets full wages for extra output but a bonus which 


is applied to his whole day's work. For instance, suppose an 
outfit averages twenty acres per day, the engineer getting 20 
cents, guider and plowman 10 cents, and teamsters TJ cents 
per acre. For fifteen acres the wages would be $3.00, $1.50, 
and $1.13, respectively, and for twenty acres, $4.00, .$2.00, and 
$1.50. If the acreage goes above twenty, even slightly, a 
slight amount, proportioned to the minimum rate for each 
man, is added to the rate for the day. If the engineer got two 
cents extra the others would get 1 cent and f cent, which, 
on twenty-one acres would mean 42, 21, and 16 cents, respec- 
tively, added. This does not invite abuse of the equipment. 

A good plan is to make the bonus effective only in case 
the man remains with the outfit until the close of a given 
season. As the season advances, the extra wages which might 
be secured from some other operator are not sufficient to meet 
the loss of bonus. One ranch of 25,000 acres in central Kansas 
hires about 120 laborers, paying $20 a month as wages and at 
the rate of $100 a year bonus, if the laborer remains on the farm 
until the close of the fiscal year, on September 30th. 

Still another plan is to pay a very low rate of wages, amoimt- 
ing to approximately half the normal earning capacity of each 
man, supplementing this with a payment by the acre, which, 
for an average day's run, would pay an average total wage. 
Thus, a man worth $2.00 per day would be paid $1.00 per day 
and 5 cents per acre. His wages would seldom fall below $1.75 
and could be increased to from $2.75 to $3.00 with everything 

The tractioneer shoidd remember that the plows of to-day 
are designed to run at the speed a horse will maintain, namely, 
two miles an hour or less. At a higher speed a given plow may 
scour better, and will imdoubtedly pulverize better, but there 
is also the danger of throwing the dirt too far, scattering 
trash, and imnecessarily increasing the power required to turn 
the furrow. Special plows, such as are used with oxen on the 
one hand and some foreign cable systems on the other, produce 


the desired result with greater or less curvature of the mold- 
board. The same acreage may be secured by numing at a 
speed of two and one half miles per hour with six plows, or at 
one and one half miles per hour with ten. In the former case 
the outfit must run ten miles farther to accomplish the same 
work. The engine speed may remain the same in either case, 
but at the faster speed the ten miles of extra travel must be 
endured by the tractor wheels with the additional strain upon 
rim and grouters. Both the engine and the operator must 
withstand two thirds more jolting, and the plowman, especially, 
must endure the discomfort occasioned by rapid progress, since 
the frame wheels of the plow are relatively small in diameter. 
These wheels and the gauge wheel, coulter and share on each 
bottom, must travel much farther in plowing an acre. The 
shares must be changed oftener, while the entire outfit remains 
idle. More trips across the field will be required for a given 
acreage, and there is the temptation at every turn to waste 
a Uttle time. These speeds represent extremes, neither of 
which is adapted to present plow design. Until experience has 
proved that a higher speed is advantageous, and plowmakers 
have met the need with new plow shapes, the majority of trac- 
tors will be adapted to a plowing speed about equal to that of 
horses. Grood management demands that the existing condi- 
tions be analyzed and no attempt made to force results which 
cannot reasonably be expected. 

Every possible means should be taken to secure as large a 
volume of work as is possible with a safe rate of wear and tear 
on equipment. It is difficult to persuade hired crews to secure 
this volume by keeping the outfit in motion, the majority pre- 
ferring to take long periods of rest and crowd the engine dur- 
ing the time it works. There is only one best speed for plowing 
with a given engine, and a good engineer can prolong the life 
of an engine by finding it. One well-paid man should be 
given full authority over the others, and made responsible not 
only for the amount of work done, but for the condition of 


the equipment. Cheap labor is by no means economical, 
especially in the person of foreman or engineer. Not every 
engineer who can run a threshing engine can run the same 
engine successfully in breaking, while stationary and locomo- 
tive engineers fail more often than not at this "rough-and- 
tumble engineering." The duty of the foreman should be to 
cut down the time spent at standstill by every means within 
his power. Anticipating accidents is one profitable way of 
earning wages, and only the experienced engineer will be 
able to do this. 

Cutting down the time required to take on supplies is another 
important item. Steam engines were formerly standing stUl 
about 25 per cent, of the time, for oiling and taking coal and 
water. Water may now be taken while the outfit is on the 
move, requiring from five to eight minutes for each hour. 
When it is necessary to stop for coal, as is the case perhaps 
four times a day, the work of taking it on, oiling, tightening 
bolts, etc., should be divided among the entire stop. With 
internal-combustion engines, the time thus lost is much less, 
although in a few makes of engine the use of cooling water is 
so excessive as to require a stop every two hours for this alone. 
A portable supply tank, with compartments for both fuel and 
water, is a time-saving piece of equipment in this case. 

The custom operator must first of all be sure of getting a 
living price for his work. In some sections competition is so 
keen as to make this difficult, but thorough organization of 
the traction plowing operators should remove this difficulty. 
The cost of doing work must be accurately known before a fair 
basis of custom price may be had. This in turn requires the 
keeping of dally records of cost and performance, and this 
should be regarded as quite as necessary as intelligent manage- 
ment of the equipment itself. Daily records should show the 
number of miles traveled, or acres plowed; the total amoimt of 
fuel, lubricating oil and other materials used; the cost of labor 
and board; horse charges and incidental expenses. Cash 


accounts should be kept in order that the repairs and other 
overhead charges for the season may be accurately divided 
among the total units of work. Accounts with each customer 
should show the date of the work; the total acreage; the cus- 
tom rate and the dates of payment. Fields should be accurately 
measured and full value received for all work done. Blank 
forms for keeping these records are sometimes supplied free 
by the manufacturer. The custom operator should regard 
himself as a public benefactor, but not necessarily a philan- 
thropist, and should be prudent in making concessions in the 
face of real or fancied competition. Prompt, and if necessary 
vigorous collections should be the rule. 

The efficiency of the tractor must not be cut down by in- 
adequate accessory equipment. This applies with particular 
force to the big steam outfit. For satisfactory attendance 
there must usually be at least one coal wagon, at $75 to $80 
complete; a trap wagon for carrying the repair parts, tools, 
and odds and ends; and a tank wagon, costing anywhere from 
$75 to $200 complete. Chains, clevises, tools, and black- 
smith outfits will usually cost from $50 to $125. Complete 
equipment of this sort will save many delays occasioned by 
the failiure of some trifling part, and will save enormously on 
the time required for sharpening plows. Time and money 
have often been saved by sinking wells at intervals over a 
large ranch and using a small portable gasoline engine to pump 
water for the tractor. For plowing at some distance from 
headquarters it is advisable to have either a tent or shack 
for cooking, and possibly another for sleeping. The cook 
shack and sleeping van are frequently on wheeb, and form 
part of the regular outfit which is taken from place to place. 
Thus no time need be lost in going to meals, and proper care 
of the men is made much easier. Either shack complete 
and mounted on substantial trucks will cost from $200 to $500, 
according to finish and equipment. 

While the greatest need for mechanical power lies in plow- 


ing, the use of a tractor on the farm is seldom profitable unless 
every effort is made to keep it busy during the remainder of 
the year. Conditions have changed remarkably in the last 
decade, and tractors are now in demand for a greater variety 
of work than was once thought within its range of usefulness. 
More satisfactory machines and implements for utilizing the 
engine's power have constituted one great factor in adding to 
the possible volume of work, and the most successful operator 
will embrace every opportunity thus offered. 


DRY- FARMING" is a relative term. It implies 
agriculture in sections where there is a normal 
scarcity of moisture during the growing season. 
Roughly, the dry-farming area in the United States 
lies west of the Missoiui River in the North and the 99th me- 
ridian in Nebraska and Kansas, while in the South it includes 
the great plains area of Oklahoma, Texas, and the states to 
the West. It stretches westward to the Rocky Moimtains, 
and northward far beyond the 49th parallel into the Northwest 
Provinces of Canada. Within this great body of land are the 
hundreds of thousands of dry-farms that lie outside the scope 
of practical irrigation, and on which unusual methods must 
be adopted to conserve moisture if these semi-arid tracts are 
to compete in any way with the green gardens under the ditches. 
Through necessity, it has been demonstrated that the "Great 
American Desert" of the eighties is capable of producing the 
food of many millions of people. Rapid immigration and a 
demand for farm products far outrunning any possible increase 
through more intensive cultivation in the East, have made 
necessary the invasion of the semi-arid West, the adoption of 
new methods and more efficient equipment. The cattleman, 
using twenty-five acres to support a steer, has reluctantly given 
way to the settler. Yet dry-farming has until recently pro- 
gressed slowly and failures have multiphed. High winds and 
lack of rainfall make work extremely difficult for animals to 
withstand during the hottest of the growing season. It has 



always been found difficult to provide the variety of feed 
necessary for keeping animals in good working condition, 
and farmers have always been obliged to keep a surplus of 
horseflesh in order to make sure of a full quota during rush 
seasons. With the coming of mechanical power, dry-farming 
has taken on a new importance. Nowhere has the tractor 
found a greater range of usefulness, than on the grain farms of 
the semi-arid West. It is particularly the diy-farmers' own 
and he is rapidly grasping its possibilities. 

From time to time land was wrested from the range and 
broken up, only to present new and unsuspected difficulties. 
The very conditions essential to the conservation of moisture 
on the great plains, that is, a dust mulch and frequent tillage, 
make it almost impossible to prevent the hillsides from washing 
and blowing. Summer winds of sixty miles per hour carry 
the loose earth to bury vegetation and stifle man and beast. 
According to Prof. E. C. Montgomery, agronomist of the Ne- 
braska Experiment Station, not over 10 to 20 per cent, 
of the land between the 99th and 104th meridians should be 
under cultivation. The remainder is good grazing land, and, 
used in conjunction with the cultivated area, will support a 
large amotmt of live stock. Modem knowledge holds, there- 
fore, that the land really adapted to diy-farming is the level 
land best adapted to traction farming. 

In all dry-farm tillage operations, there are three great prob- 
lems: the conservation of soil water; the eradication of weeds, 
and the securing of proper physical conditions in the soil. 
Of these, the first is by far the most important. By the means 
employed to secure an adequate supply of soil water, the other 
ends are largely accomplished. So vital is this need that an 
enormous premium is placed upon prompt and rapid action at 
all times when the stock of moisture is endangered. The 
traction engine works swiftly. It is tireless. It relieves the 
farmer from rush and anxiety, and he has turned to it eagerly 
as the lever by which he can control the moisture situation 


This one advantage, capacity, has made him master of his 
environment. Were there no other consideration in its favor, 
the tractor would still hold an important place in dry-land 
agriculture. Methods vary with conditions and with people. 
Each section gains its ends independently. Yet into every 
part of the great semi-arid plains the traction engine has foimd 
its way, and proved its usefulness. A review of farm practice 
in dry-farming districts reveals no condition where it is not a 
most useful servant. 

Dry-land agriculture has its degrees in dryness. There are 
regions having from five to ten inches of rainfall annually, 
where, with the best methods of soil tillage and moisture con- 
servation, a crop may be raised no oftener than every other 
year. There are regions with from ten to fifteen inches of 
rainfall, where two crops may be grown in succession on the 
moisture stored up diu-ing a fallow year, plus that which is 
precipitated during the two growing seasons. Then there is 
the dry-land agriculture in which, with eighteen to twenty-two 
inches of rainfall, as in western Nebraska and Kansas, a crop 
may be grown every year. Rainfall is not the only factor, 
however. In the northern sections the evaporation is much 
less than in the southern, and an area with a rainfall of thirty 
inches in Texas or Oklahoma may entail drier dry-fanning than 
one in Saskatchewan with half the annual precipitation. 

In western Canada, the winter temperatures are low, 
and the summer season short. Evaporation is not so rapid 
as farther south, and crops may be grown successfully with 
much less rainfall. In breaking the virgin prairie, it is cus- 
tomary to allow the grass to obtain a good start, then to break 
it rapidly, as shallow as possible. By plowing only two to two 
and one half inches deep, the crown and the roots of the grass 
are separated. The long, gently curving moldboards of the 
breaker plows turn the sod upside down, leaving the surface 
in smooth, ribbon-like furrows. The best farmers roll the land 
immediately, so that no large air spaces may be left between 


the subsoil and the furrow slice, and the sod is then in condition 
to rot with the greatest despatch. In from four to six weeks, 
the land is plowed again, this time at a depth of four inches 
or more. Disking and harrowing follow to prepare the seedbed 
and form a dust mulch on the surface, thus conserving the 
moisture for the following year's crop. The work of breaking 
and "backsetting," as the second plowing is called, must be 
done in the heat of the short northern summer. Daylight 
lasts over all but a few hours of the twenty-four. Work presses, 
but the severe toil of the horse must cease after eight hours, 
ten at the outside. He must have food and rest when needed 
most in the field. In this emergency, the traction engine 
stands ready to do the work of two or three shifts of horses. 
Not only does it do the work more cheaply, but, and this is 
more important, it does it exactly at the right time. 

In the womout lands of the nearer humid West, farmers 
have found that summer fallowing, or resting and cultivating 
the land a year between crops, gives new life to the soil. Scien- 
tists tell us that the bacteria of the soil make available some 
of the locked-up nitrogen, converting it into nitrates which 
plants can assimilate. Wasteful methods have made this 
necessary on some of the greatest wheat lands the world has 
ever seen. Summer fallowing imder humid conditions is a 
confession of extravagance. In dry-land agriculture, it is 
a periodical necessity. Referring to average prairie conditions, 
the Minister of Agriculture for Saskatchewan stated, several 
years ago, that "bare summer fallowing is becoming, and in- 
deed in many parts had already become, the very foundation 
upon which successful wheat culture is based and profitably 
carried on. The practice of summer fallowing is usually 
associated in the popular mind with the restoration of fertil- 
ity; but not so in the West. Conservation of soil moisture 
is the primary object of bare fallowing." 

In summer fallowing, two systems may be followed: either 
to plow the land early after the weeds have once germinated, 


and then keep it constantly cultivated, or, where the land is 
clean, to plow it late and give it no further cultivation. The 
former is of course the more desirable method, as the weeds 
are destroyed as fast as they appear, the surface mulch is main- 
tained, and no moisture is lost. However, with the ordinary 
number of horses kept on such farms, weeds often grow faster 
than they can be kept down. 

Lovers of dumb beasts who pity the overloaded cart horse 
of the city streets, may well pity the patient, willing farm horse, 
in summer fallowing time, doomed to long, weary hours under 
the dry glare of the Western prairie sky, dragging a relentless 
load through the choking dust and heat. The hotter and drier 
the season, the more intense the energy which must be applied 
to retain the precious fluid. Again and again, by day and by 
night, cultivation must go on under extreme pressure. In 
the hour of need extra horseflesh cannot be had at any cost, 
and mere brute flesh and blood has neither the power nor 
endurance to meet the tremendous emergency. With the 
traction engine, the land can be gone over swiftly, and where 
necessary, the acreage can be doubled at night. Weeds then 
have small chance to rob the soil of the moisture and the soluble 
plant food made ready for the following crop. 

It is a curious fact that in fallow ground rain may cause a 
loss of moisture where abimdant power is not available for 
cultivating. A slight rain may penetrate only to the depth 
of the dust mulch, causing it to run together and establish 
capillary channels connecting with those in the subsoil. The 
evaporation during the middle of the summer, when these 
showers may be expected, may not only be great enough to 
remove the rain which has just fallen, but a large part of that 
which has been so carefully hoarded below the surface. It is 
practically out of the question for the farmer to maintain 
horses enough for such an emergency but by crowding his 
engine to its full capacity, he is able to reestablish the mulch 
before the mischief is done. 


In the Columbia Basin of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, 
the annual rainfall is as low as eight or nine inches. Here the 
usual practice is to summer fallow, and follow this with winter 
wheat. After the fall harvest, if the ground is quite free from 
weeds, it is possible to plow and leave it rough and cloddy 
without further treatment until the following spring. It is 
then in excellent shape to hold the soil and snow from blowing, 
and to allow rain and melting snow to penetrate. Trash thus 
has a better chance to decompose and the rains tend to settle 
the ground. However, if the land is weedy, the better practice 
is to use the tractor to disk and harrow the ground frequently 
after harvest. Plowing is then done in the spring for the sum- 
mer fallowing, or for the spring crop if one is sown. In some 
sections of this Basin, near the mountains, the rainfall is suffi- 
dent to allow two crops between summer fallows, a winter 
crop followed by a spring crop, or two spring crops in succession. 

There are sections in the State of Washington, where the soil 
is a volcanic ash, or pumice, of such loose, gritty, character 
that a traction engine, regardless of make or construction, is 
speedily worn out. Into this district many have been intro- 
duced, all meeting with the same difficulty. One would expect 
land owners to become discouraged, but on closer investi- 
gation, it is found that the violent storms of lava dust which 
play havoc with even the heaviest parts of traction engines 
make the use of horses during such times almost out of the 

In the Dakotas and Montana new land is sometimes broken 
to a depth of five or six inches to avoid the drying out of the 
furrow slice which accompanies the method of shallow breaking 
and backsetting. Authorities like Professor Shaw affirm that 
the latter method makes it next to impossible ever to obtain a 
seedbed deeper than the original year's plowing, while with deep 
breaking and proper tillage there need never be a crop failure 
in either state. With deep breaking — i. e., at least six inches 
— a fair seedbed may be obtained at once, though at an enor- 


mous cost for power, and its depth Increased at will in successive 
seasons. Those who follow this method usually pack, disk 
and harrow the new breaking thoroughly and put in a crop of 
flax the same season. The following year the stubble is well 
disked and harrowed, and a spring crop put in without plow- 
ing. The original surface soil is eventually brought again to 
the top and mixed with the other layers, but not until the old 
vegetation has been decomposed under the influence of the 
moisture which this system retains. 

New and more fertile farms imderlie the old, and farmers 
are adding to their acres by doubling the depth of plowing. 
Not only do they double the feeding groimd for the roots of 
wheat, but they more than double the moisture holding capac- 
ity of the soil. The dust mulch, and the crust which forms 
just underneath it, may render four or five inches of the top 
soil imavailable for the support of plants. Eight-inch plowing 
gives, then, from 100 to 200 per cent, greater volume of cul- 
tivated soil and moisture reservoir than six-inch plowing, and 
ten-inch plowing places the soil water permanently below the 
evaporating influence of the sun and air. Animals, already 
limited in number by the crop-cycle which enforces a long, 
expensive period of maintenance each year with no return, 
cannot profitably be kept to do this increasingly difficult work. 
Only the insensate mechanical motor combines the strength, 
endurance and economy of maintenance necessary to coax 
satisfactory yields from this region of fertile soil and uncertain 
rainfall, and convert them into large net profits. 

Further south, in western Nebraska and Kansas, with a rain- 
fall of eighteen to twenty-two inches, there is reasonable 
assurance of a yield only every two or three years. Although 
the moisture may be sufficient, insects or high winds may 
spoil the crop; consequently, the usual practice is to put as 
little expense on the land as possible. The loss in case of a bad 
season is then less, and the yield in a good season compares 
favorably with areas under more intensive cultivation. Land 


values and rents are low, hence from a business standpoint, 
the practice seems justifiable. However, the better class of 
farmers are realizing that with better equipment and cheaper 
methods they gain in the long nm by applying more intensive 
cultivation. The traction engine has greatly cheapened the 
cost of the necessary tillage operations, and added to the cer- 
tainty of their execution. It is, therefore, being adopted by 
farmers who prefer to make some eflFort of their own rather 
than trust entirely to providence. 

In the great Southwest, the hottest and driest of the dry- 
farming regions, the only plowing that can be done economically 
during the greater part of the year is with the traction engine. 
It is at its best in the hottest weather. Heat is its very life. 
The steam engine produces its steam more economically, the 
internal-combustion engine its gas more perfectly, in the highest 
temperatures. The mechanical cooling apparatus of the latter 
removes the enormous handicaps placed on that other internal- 
combustion motor, the horse. Two thirds of the muscular 
energy consimied by the animal during work is given off as 
waste heat. Nature's cooling apparatus is unequal to the 
task in the heated zones. The temperature of the animal 
rises quickly to the danger point, and work must stop. But 
not so with the tractor. Let the sim shine mercilessly, let the 
ground dry and bake; disk plows will penetrate it; its very 
solidity aids the traction wheels to transmit more power to the 
plows; heavy rollers or crushers drawn behind the plows crush 
and pulverize the soil, the harrow smooths and stirs the sur- 
face, and the bare field has become a seedbed. Even after 
the crop is up and growing, light cultivation adds enormously 
to the yield by breaking up the dry crust which grips the young 
plants. With the tractor the farmer may thus cover two or 
three sections twice in the growing season, a task impossible 
with teams. 

In the humid sections the weight of enormous steam tractors 
is occasionally a detriment on account of the pupking of the 


moist soil. To the good dry-farmer this appeals as an ad- 
vantage, for packing the soil closes up the air spaces in the 
lower half of the fmrow and thus prevents a loss of moisture, 
besides leaving the ground smooth and firm to facilitate har- 
vesting. The firm earth conducts heat more rapidly, and packed 
subsurface soils warm up more quickly in the spring. Too 
often this work of packing is neglected on accoimt of the extra 
drain on the energy of the work animals. The heavy tractor's 
own weight and its ample power remove the difficulty. 

It is thoroughly established that the disk should precede, 
as well as follow, the plow in dry-land agriculture. The mixture 
of chopped stubble and loose soil thus thrown to the bottom 
of the furrow forms a perfect imion with the subsoil, in contrast 
with the big, dry clods usually plowed under. Capillary 
connection with the subsoil is more quickly reestablished, the 
deep moisture rises, and decomposition of the buried vegetation 
is hastened. Lack of time and power usually prevent the 
practice of this valuable method. With teams, this operation 
must be done separately, but to owners of traction engines the 
addition of disks behind the plows is a mere detail. 

No manageable team can perform more than one operation 
at one time. With horses seeding must wait on the work of 
the plow, packer and disk — plowing on the completion of the 
harvest. Sun and weeds draw moisture from the unprotected 
soil in the meantime. But the harvester may precede the 
tractor, the disk or plow may follow, and in an instant the ground 
passes from the shadow of the standing grain to the shelter 
of the earth mulch. Instead of separate trips for the plow, 
the roller, the disk and the harrow, the engine accomplishes 
all at once. Or the plow, the packer, the disk and seeder may 
work as one, to give the sown seed every advantage of moisture 
and time for growth. Instead of countless footsteps, each 
sinking deeper as the soil is made more mellow, the path of the 
tractor is made but once. Instead of a loss of power in trav- 
ersing the soft ground, there is a fast grip of traction wheel on 


firm earth. Instead of acres baking In the sun and air as they 
await the moisture-saving harrow, there is a swift and easy 
crumbhng of the soil, a quick pressing of the earth back to its 
place and a protective mantle of dust to guard the treasured 
moistiu^. Measured in moisture or in money, the cost is less 
than by the former methods. 

From the moment spring work begins, moments are precious. 
The grain which is sown to-day may yield a fourth more than 
what we sow to-morrow after a day's rapid loss of moisture. 
Two weeks' difference in time of seeding often spells the dif- 
ference between glowing success and complete failure. At 
harvest time the early-cut grain contains a greater percentage 
of gluten and brings a higher grade and price on the market. 
Early threshing saves deterioration of the crops through ex- 
posure, and the early bird at the railway station catches the 
cars before the annual shortage. The tractor can plow fifty 
acres in twenty-four hours, disk or seed a hundred, harvest 
two hundred. It will thresh 10 acres — 200 bushels — in an 
hour, and at one trip haul two carloads to the railway. The 
searchlight of the engine gleams through the dark hours of the 
night while the tired horse rests in his stall for the work of the 
morrow. Even threshing, which has been confined to the time 
between dawn and twilight, may now continue through the 
darkness under the glare of electric lights. Current from a 
small motor and a portable hghting plant thus doubles the 
service of the farmer's equipment and lessens the overhead 
cost of farming. 

The handling of the drill is work for the four-horse team — 
play for the tractor. Another team must follow the drill to 
draw the packer, another to harrow — three teams and three 
men. Three times three teams and three men must cross the 
field to equal the work of a small tractor and two men, with 
drills, packers, and harrows in tow. Where seeding follows 
quickly after plowing, a disk ahead of the drill wipes out the 
wheel tracks of the engine and mellows the soil; the drill drops 


the seed at a given depth; the packer firms the earth around it 
to bring moisture for quick germination: and the smoothing 
harrow levels all and leaves the surface mulch. To-morrow 
the seeding is done. The extra teamsters must be dismissed 
to await the harvest, the horses fed and cared for against the 
day they will again be needed. The tractor needs only shelter, 
and not always is given that. 

Inaction softens the muscles of the animal, but at harvest 
time the engine comes forth from its shed ready for the hardest 
work. For each horse on the binder there is a foot or so of 
cutterbar; for each five horses, a driver. For the engine there 
are forty feet of sickles, one driver, and two or more men to 
watch the binders. The engine in twenty hours may travel thirty 
to thirty-five working miles, and cut nearly five acres to each 
mile traveled. The grain may be cut neither too early nor too 
late, the ground disked to check needless exhaustion of the soil 
moisture, and the entire task completed before the toiling horses 
have bound the grain out of the way of the sun and storm. 

Dry-farming conditions require, most of all, a means for 
rapid work when work is needed. The traction engine as a 
factor in dry-farming has thoroughly demonstrated its use- 
fulness. It does its work rapidly, enabling the farmer to keep 
the upper hand of unfavorable conditions. It makes possible 
the effective conservation of moisture, the thorough eradi- 
cation of weeds and the maintenance of superb physical con- 
dition in the semi-arid soils. It reduces the cost of operation 
to such an extent as to create a new and important source of 
profits, as compared with earlier systems of farming. A sav- 
ing of from two to five dollars an acre by the use of a tractor 
in crop production represents an enormous percentage where 
the total jrield may not be more than twelve to twenty bushels 
per acre. What is true of dry-fa,rming is true also of other 
types, for in the last analysis dry-farming is merely good farm- 
ing enforced by stem necessity. 

The auxiliary equipment for use with tractors in dry-farm- 


ing operations depends, of course, upon a host of local conditions. 
After the ground is once broken, a gas tractor of 30 actual 
tractive horsepower will be able to handle on the average 
eight to ten 14-inch stubble bottoms in plowing. This, at a 
net rate of If miles of furrow travel, would give from two to 
two and one half acres per hour. This is fair capacity since 
it has been f oimd that the average plowing outfit actually makes 
about sixteen to eighteen miles of furrow travel in a day of 
ten hours, after deducting for turns and all delays. Probably 
the eight bottom plow, equipped with both stubble and breaker 
bottoms, is the most convenient for this size of engine, as on 
hghter soils, the extra power of the engine may be taken up by 
a load of harrows, etc. Probably two thirds the operators, at 
least one half, disk or pack the ground while plowing. 

In case the plows are not followed immediately by harrows, 
a combination of soil-preparing implements consists of four 
8-foot disk harrows, at $30 to $40 each; six 5-foot sections of 
spike-tooth harrow, at $6 each; three 11-foot rollers or crushers, 
at $35 each; and three 11-foot grain drills, at about $90 each. 
It will be noted that in every case except the plows, the total 
width of each set of implements is about two rods, so that any 
combination can be used readily. At the same rate of travel 
as before the capacity of the outfit would be practically seventy 
acres for a ten-hour day. Each disk harrow or crusher will take 
about 4 h.p.; each drill 4 to 5 h.p.; and each five-foot section of 
drag harrow about 1 h.p. These figures are for fairly heavy 
soil and it will be found in many cases that a combination of 
implements can be handled, which on the above basis, would 
require considerably more than the rated horsepower of the 

From three to five 8-foot binders, which will cost about 
$140 each, can be used for harvesting on level ground, with a 
capacity of seven to eight iaeres per hour. It is necessary to 
provide a special binder hitch, which will not only allow easy 
turning but will secure perfect alignment of the binders so that 


each will cut a full swath. The number provided will, of course, 
always be one less than the number of biaders. On rolling ground 
the number of binders is limited by topography rather than 
the power of the engine, the larger number of binders having a 
tendency not to cut full width on side slopes. One type of 
patent binder hitch, costing about $35, has added from ten to 
fifteen days to the aimual service of many a traction engine in 
the West. 

The header, a wide machine that cuts the wheat stalk close 
to the head and elevates it without binding, has much greater 
capacity than the binder. It can be used profitably only where 
the absence of storms allows the grain to remain on the stalk 
imtilfuUy ripe. One of these can be quite successfully pushed 
ahead of a small tractor, being pushed ahead. In some cases 
a larger engine will use a header in front, and plows or disks 

The combined harvester cuts, threshes, and sacks the grain 
at one operation. This machine, drawn by a large steam 
engine, may place from 75 to 125 acres of wheat in sacks ready 
for shipment, in a day of twelve hours. The disadvantage is 
that the crop has Uttle protection from imfavorable weather. 
Rain may beat it down and shell out part of the grain, or wind 
may place it beyond the reach of cutting. Weed seeds are 
scattered back upon the ground by the "combine" and dis- 
tributed from field to field, hence the essentials of good farming 
are harder to observe. 

For threshing by the ordinary methods, separators are made 
in sizes adapted to practically all sizes of plowing engines, 
except the very largest. A large separator of common size, 
fully equipped, costs in the neighborhood of $1300, and has a 
capacity of 1500 to 2500 bushels of wheat per day. Eight or ten 
wagons will be needed in threshing and hauling. These will cost 
$100 to $125 each when equipped with a straw rack and a 100- 
bushel grain box. The whole train may be hauled at one trip by 
the tractor, delivering two carloads of grain to the car or elevator. 


At the present time, no general recommendation can be 
made as to the type of traction engine best adapted to dry- 
farming. In business of any sort, the dominant idea in the 
beginning is the matter of capacity. Where a great amount of 
work must be done, and rapidly, the net profits will sometimes 
be greater by using a more expensive method of operation. 
As dry-farming develops, the matter of economy of operation 
will become more important and equipment that is now prof- 
itable may have to be cast aside. 


IN THE great Northwest it is now conceded that 
the large grower of cereals must rely on the tractor 
to keep abreast of his fellows and the world's demand 

for bread. But dow n in _ the corn ._bdt, where 

grandfathei!s.-m£thQds are modified but. slowly, the economy 
of the trac tgnaiul its-WonderfuLmessage to humanity are being 
a ppreciated less fully . It is JJbe_cornJielt farmer with from a 
quwW to a half section of Jand who is backward in adopting 
mecha nical traction. 

Even now, on some comjbelt farms, stationary and traction 
motors of myriad kinds ate-4terfonning- nearly every sort of 
farm labor — £lgwiiig»_seeding,-Jui]XQSang»-xoUiQg,' reaping, 
Bindi ng, threshing grftin.,grinding £oxn.J&Uii)^ the. silo. They 
are hauling manure,_shr:gdding fodder, loadingjhay, unloading 
grain, milking cows, sheari ng shefiPjikiUing weUsj giading roads, 
running spray-pumps to protect the fruit trees — even doing 
chores by carrying water anid_jsam»g... wood. The gasoTEe 
engine adds electric light to the conveniences of the farm, and 
an automatic water-system instantly brings fresh water 
sparkling from the well with a pressure equal to that of the 
city main. 

i- The farmer's wife on such a farm needs but to turn a wheel, 
throw a switch, twist a stop-cock, and be saved her hardest 
work. Butter is again made on the farm and not in the factory. 
The motor runs the cream separator and churn, dispensing 
with the labor of the milk cellar and its endless array of pans 



and crocks to be washed. It gives new speed to her sewing 
machine. On sweeping day it saves her health and strength 
with a vacuum cleaner. It runs her washing-machine and 
mangle. Through a dynamo in the electric fan and the flat- 
iron it brings her blessed relief from the fiery heat of the range 
on ironing day. It is her ready helper in the kitchen. And 
all this takes no account of the promise of new inventions. 
Th e tractor d ispenses with. the. raft of hired hands required 
to care for and drive teams. Witb.tibe eUmmation of tMs 
constantly changing gang and the equally unreliable hired 
girl necessar y to cook and wash for it, the atmosphere of the 
household grows purer, Jts tone higher. The farmer's wife 
and daughter have time to indulge in those feminine touches 
which make the home — to enjoy pleasures which, added to 
the naturally healthy environment, make life worth the living. 

The live farm boy realizes instinctively that this is a mechan- 
ical age — an age of power. He sees it in the autos whisking 
by on the country roads, in the gasoline engine which dis- 
places a neighbor's windmill, in the sputtering motorcycles 
on which the city youth dashes madly about the streets. 
The tractor appeals to his inborn sense of mechanics and fills 
an aching void in his life. He yearns for the opportunity, to 
grasp it, to guide it, to see its coIcT metal parts transformed 
under his direction into a living, throbbing mechanism — to 
see the familiar dirty lamp oil blossom into power for lifting 
the weary burden of his hours of toil. This yearning gratified, 
his bosom swells with the engineer's new pride of mastery over 
the forces of nature.'*' Only the farmer himself, often, broken 
and bent from his victory in the unequal struggle with the 
soil, failsT;o enthuse over the new order of things. 

The tractor has its place on the com belt farm, as surely 
as in the great wheat belt. With the com crop, the.crisis 
lies in the work of preparation. TEe~harvest is not rushed. 
The^crpp jdoes notspoil easily. If it is not gathered in one 
way it will be in another. Cultivating, which is stjllthe almost 


undisputed province of the farm ho rse, is spread out over many 
weks ^of leisurely nibbling alon^ the com rows. We ha ve 

seen_the^ wonderfuL(qiportyflilx.f9t ffluljtJBls^ corn yield 

by dee per plowing, though plowing is._ ah-fiady .the-^eatest 
problem of the farmer.* With ho rses, plow ing must be begun 
e arly and finished late . Bu t the work of preparatio n requires 
haste. Unifojm jglawing, un^qnnjucgpatation, and juiiform 
date of planting rfisiilt in an even crop all over the fieldj and 
add quality to the prod uct. I n a humid clim ate the ground 
should be lef t imtil in the prqpgr-,.CQBditioiL and-then jnade 
r eady with all possible h aste, rln a dry climate the. .titlQ.rough- 
ness of preparatignjsjeven mqreJaiportant. A Kansas far mer, 
formerly at^ the head_of a GovenimeaL-experimentstation-ia 
the^^Psmhajidle oif Texas, _say5jth 

a good start c an mature _nicely after the idle ^period which is 
inevitable during the jummer drou|^ A_crop that goes into 
the_rest2oglp.eriodjin^ a backward state will not survive and yVistjt 
bring forth a respectable yield. Deep plowiug and a perfecttiuo , 
seedbed are fundamental aids to a good start.^ 

The following authentic record of a field of com in Ohio 
up to the point of harvest shows the distribution of labor in 
terms of one horse's time: 

j|fc_ ^ — =3» Harrowing 
T^/ --^9- RoUing 

















42.36 100.00 

Except for ciJtjyating,plowiBg.takes_by far the greatest num- 
ber of h ours and is the most severe work. Had this field been 
plowed^ ei^[t_jnd^es^jdeep. ins percentage .of .. i 

time_ and power required would have been much increased. / 


T he tra ctor adds capacity to the farmer's weapons .SJOid the_ 
work goes on at top speed. All the, work of soil preparation 
up to planting, or nearly 66 per cent, of the hours required up 
to the harvest, may easily and quickly be done by the tractor. 
For some operations the operator cannot depend on his 
animals, and for those jobs the live farmer wants power when 
he wants it, not when the other fellow is through. Even on 
the farms where there are plenty of horses, how often are the 
shredding and shelling delayed until the nasty fall rains and 
snow set in, while an individual outfit could have finished in 
nice weather. Corn is put into the silo either too greett-XM" 
too dry for lack of an engine at the proper time; top p rices 
missed for want of means to rush stuff to market; and roads 
allowed to go to pieces for want of power to work them in the 
spring, when they need attention most.^There are dozens 
of things that a tractor can do when regarded as something 
more than anjamament. It can pull mowers, haul hay to the 
stack^balejthestack ajad haul thebales to town. Itcan econom- 
ically do eve^^thing to raise com except the easy work of 
planting and cul^vating, and injiddition it will nm any one 
of the. half dozen machines for putting the com into more 
convenient shape for feeding or market^ It can handle every 
operatiqn^nnected with small grain crops. With the individual 
threshing outfit more than one smaU farmer throws off the 
belt and, using abig rack, goes after a big load of bundles with 
th&.tractor. Thus, three or four men and a team to haul grain 
do the jJu-eshing instead of the usual big, himgry, dirty crew. 
^The tractor costs much less than the iorses that will equal 
it in power. If both are worked constantly at full capacity, 
the tractor will last the longer .i#'ItJs_not subject to disease 
and death; and if seriously damaged cein be replaced piecemeal, 
white the horse is permanently out of «x>mmission. (^Repairs 
on a well-built tractor are less than shoeing and veterinary 
attendance on the horses that will accomplish the same volume 
of work.^ Overhead- charges, therejfore are less on the machine 


Kerosene for fuel costs le ss than f eed. It can be had at all 
se^ons with httle variation in price, since the oil companies 
are untiringly refining great quantities of it as a by-product 
of gasoline. Since the average corn belt farmer is close to some 
town, he can make a quick trip and return with enough fuel 
to last two weeks. Hay and grain are produced but once a 
year and must be stored. This gradually adds to the cost 
and price of feed which is always highest when horses require 
the most — i. e,, in the spring and early summer. Economy 
requires a farmer to store a year's food supply for his horses 
out of every crop. 

In southeastern Minnesota, according to Government figures, 
the horses on a number of diversified farms each consumed 
52 13 pounds of grain and 7073 lbs, of hay annually during the 
pT^ears from 1905 to 1907. Supposing com and oats to have 
3' ]^n fed in equal quantity by weight, and assuming prices of 
50 cents for corn, 30 cents for oats, and $8 a ton for hay, 
one horse's feed^or a year would cost $73 89^ TheseTEorses 
averaged 948 hours of work of all kinds per year, hence each 
ate 5.5 lbs. of grain and 7.46 lbs. of hay, costing 7.8 cents for 
every hour spent in harness. For 1000 hours of hard work a 
tractor equivalent to fifteen horses would consume about 3000 
gallons of fuel. Kerosene may be had at 3 to 3| cents at the 
refineries, and at the country towns in barreb for 5^ to 7 cents. 
At the latter figure, 3000 gallons would cost $210 and the 
tractor's fuel would cost less than three times as much as one 
horse's feed. Even if we add $75 a year for lubricants and 
minor items, the difference is enormous. 

In these days o f high j um ber prices , the storage of horses 
and feed is a severe problem. From figures collected by the 
writer on about thirty medium-sized Ohio farms, it appears 
that 750 cubic feet of bam room are required per work horse, 
not counting storage space, alleys, etc. Figuring on equal 
weights of oats and shelled com, the 5213 pounds of grain 



for each horse would require 45 cubic feet of solid granary 
space. His 7073 pounds of hay, which would require 600 
cubic feet to the ton when first put in, would occupy 2122 cubic 
feet. Adding 10 per cent, to each storage space to allow for 
waste, plus the space required for the animal itself, would give 
a total of 3244 feet for each animal and its feed. A bam for 
15 horses would then contain 48,660 cubic feet, and at 3 cents 
per cubic foot enclosed would cost practically $1460. 

A l5-h.p. tractor is about 8 ft. wide, 10| ft. high, and 16 
ft. long. In order to make a building large enough to work in 
and store extra parts, one should figure on a garage of 14 x 20 
feet on the ground and 11 feet to the square. It need not be 
so carefully planned as to ventilation and warmth as a barn. 
Being smaller, however, the building would cost more in pro- 

Housing of horses and tractor 

portion, but even at 4 cents per cubic foot would cost less than 
$150. Since fuel may be had at any time, the average man 
would not want to store a year's supply at once, but a 100-bbl. 
tank could be constructed under ground at far less cost than 
the difference between $150 and $1460. A fair-sized tank, 
which can be filled in idle seasons, is a great saver of time in 
the rush of mid-sununer, and, since kerosene and distillate do 
not evaporate, the scheme is perfectly safe. 


The labor-sa ving feature of the tractor isjast, but by no 
^ meaas.Jeast. Twfi,_mfin...Bffl. fiaidle the tratior w 

wouldJjexSSLUkgdJforjGfteenJioxses.. One. maji^caii_^easUy drive 
four , or even fi ve horses. b.ut_G.QKeri!roent stetistics show that 
it requires about twenty-seven minutes every day throughout 
the yea r ^chores for each work horse, hence_one extra chore 
man' s time would be well occupied, even with the horses idle. 
The saving of $4.50 to $6 per day on labor, to say nothing 
of the elimination of monotonous chores before daylight and 
after dark, makes powerful appeal to the farmer who must 
often buy machines that will not save money but will replace 
men who are not to be had. 

We have said nothing about the many times in a year when 
only two horses are required. ratiier-thMLfifteen; of the vexing 
delays over the breakage of some triflmg^part; of the inte lli- 
genoe^requTred to learn and operate successfully a new type of 
power as compared to one which the farmer knows almost by 
instinct; of the times when a tractor becomes stalled in the 
mud and cannot flounder out; and of other disadvantages. It 
is not logical to suppose that every tractor is perfect, and 
that the ownership and operation of one constitute a key to 
everlasting bliss. However, the advantages enumerated are 
real, and from the scattered cases of power plowing in the 
corn belt, are developing numerous communities devoted for 
the most part to traction farming. 



POWER controls our modem world, and since the 
dawn of history it has been the dominating influence 
in the transition from savagery to civilization. 
The human race has always required power for 
three great essential purposes: tilling the soil to grow food and 
raw materials; changing the shape of materials to adapt them 
for use; and carrying men and products from place to place. 
In other words, power is required for agriculture, manufactur- 
ing and transportation. 

The tiller of the soil in all ages has surpassed his contempora- 
ries in the arts and commerce, in adapting animal power to 
human needs. He is thus the last to feel the need of a change 
to mechanical power, and so has escaped the final stage in 
the industrial revolution. But he is now about to complete 
the cycle. He has come to the point where the methods of 
the past will no longer suffice if he is to keep pace with the other 
factors in the world of industry. 

Agriculture — the production of foodstuffs — cannot be 
concentrated physically. The fanner's workshop is broad, 
and his power needs as great at one corner as at another. 
The power plant for his work must be portable; if possible, self- 
propelling. Until the present generation nothing so met his 
requirements as the animal muscle. Man made his first step 
toward civilization when he took a crooked stick and began to 
till the soil, using the force of his own muscles. LAter he 
conquered and enslaved to his purpose the power of the ox. 



Upon cultivating the soil, he became master of the plants and 
shaped them to serve his purposes. With the plow the savage 
life of the hunter and the nomad life of the herder gave way 
to that settled agriculture that now yields our food supply 
and upon which rests our modem civilization. 

Nature in her most extravagant moods has never brought 
civilization. In Columbus's time the entire continent sup- 
ported fewer inhabitants than are now grouped in any one of 
a dozen American cities. With an abundance of wild game and 
fishes, the Indian suffered periodical famines, the severity of 
which was often modified only by the scanty supphes of maize 
raised by the squaws. The application of power to the soil 
and the civilizing influence of systematic work are the cardinal 
elements underlying continued national prosperity. 

So long as a whole race must be occupied chiefly in providing 
itself with food and raiment, it has neither time nor desire for 
pursuits of a higher nature. To the substitution of brute power 
for man power the world owes the growth of cities, commerce, 
arts, and sciences. To steam it owes the gigantic development 
of industry and trade, but without the marvelous improve- 
ment which steam has wrought in farm machines, man, that 
most important link, could not have been spared from the 
soil. Even now three fourths of the population of the world 
is engaged in agriculture. The United States, leading the 
world in the use of power and machinery in rural industry, 
keeps one third her laborers and two fifths her capital employed 
in agricultural production. 

Nowhere else has the influence of power upon the production 
of our food supply been felt as in America. fc_l§20, 97 pe r 
centujfJie.£BJar^PQpulation Jived ra using hand labor 

foe nearly eyexx^ConcBiyahleJoeed. As late as 1810 the surplus 
products raised by four families were scarcely sufficient to sup- 
port one in town. Improvements in the crude farm tools and 
the growing use of animal power added materially to the pro- 
ductivity of the average farm family during the first half of 


the century. By 1850 the percentage of nuaiLpopulation had 
decreased to 90', andthe laBor of three farm families sufficed 
to j)rovide_themselves and two others with food and raw 
materials for clothes. 

According to the Twelfth Census Report, 1850 marked the 
close^)|_tiiat , Eeriod^in American agriculture when the only 
fa^_Mudements and machinery, other than the wagon, cart, 
a,nd cotton ^in, were those which might be called the imple- 
ments of hand [production. Then came the era of farm 
machinery, and production during the first half century was over- 
shadowed. By 1900 two farm families were not only able to 
support three others by their excess products, but their exports 
itoToreign countries enabled the nation to maintain an unheard- 
of balance of trade. Sxsteni3Ji<L_aBd jvigorous j^^ 
power an d machines for opening up new lafl^ds, for better tillage 
of the old, a nd for mo re effective preparation of products for 
market, put the United States in a ludf century in the front 
r^i^jaatipns. America has taught the world to save human 
labor by the use of machinery and power on the farm. 

Th£-JUtte£icaft.Jamer, ^oonsdousljy or unconsciously, has 
reco^iged the value of power. Despite the lessening percent- 
age of men working on the farm, every census except that of 
1870 has shown a larger percentage of increase in the number 
of farm horses and mules than in the total population of city 
and country combined. By the middle of the century the 
ox had been practically discarded in favor of the more rapid 
horse. By the end of another half century each farm laborer 
had doubled the weight of his products. Two and a half times 
as many men were producing five times as much gross return. 
Strangely enough, but logically, this increase parallels the 
increase in animal power. Over four times as many work 
animals were used in 1900 as in 1850, and no less authority 
than Dr. Thomas F. Hunt attributes to the modem work 
animal, as a result of intelligent breeding, 26 per cent, greater 
efficiency than to the average of sixty years ago. 


Even before 1900, eveiy possible faiuman task had been shifted 
to a machine drawn by, animals. McCormick and his reaper 
hadmade three horses do the work of forty men with sickles. 
More horses were necessary, larger horses and machines of 
greater capacity the natural evolution. While two 1000- 
poimd horses were the average team in the Central states in 
1870, three 1400 to 1500 pound horses are now employed, with 
an increase of over 100 per cent, in power under the direction of 
one man. Under the never-ceasing cry for power the manipu- 
lation of animals by a single driver quickly approached 
the feasible limit of four horses in the Central states, or six 
in the great wheat belt, and with the new century the farm 
stood awaiting the coming of mechanical power. 

The last decade has been most remarkable in the coming of 
greater power to the farm. The number of farm horses and 
mules of all ages was 25,163,000 on January 1, 1900 — accord- 
ing to the United States Department of Agriculture — an 
increase of 61 per cent, over the estimate for January 1, 1900. 
The value of both horses and mules per head had more than 
doubled, notwithstanding the milUons of potential horsepower 
sold upon the farm in mechanical motors. A few thousand 
automobiles were the entire output in 1900; now a single 
manufacturer estimates his annual sales to farmers at 800,000 
horsepower. Probably 12,000 farm tractors with 700,000 
horsepower will go this year to swell the total of mechanical 
power on the farm. The stationary internal-combustion en- 
gine, lifting the minor burdens from which the animal could 
not release the farm worker, is practically a thing of this 
decade. In the last four years the size of such engines has ia- 
creased from an average of 4 to an average of 6 horsepower. 
Seventy-five thousand new engines this year will fiu-ther 
reUeve the drudgery of farm work. Stationary, steam, elec- 
tric, wind, and water motors will easily swell the total of mechan- 
ical power on American farms to two million horsepower. 



Mechanical power, even on the farm, is now enjoying a 
swifter increase, both actual and relative, than animal power. 
Animal power and machinery added 85 per cent, to the 
producing efficiency of the average farm worker between 1870 
and 1900. For every pound of products raised by the workman 
who worked imaided in 1830, six were raised in 1895 with the 
help of machines and animals. One man could produce as 
much barley in 1895 as twenty-three in 1830. Between 1880 
and 1900, in seven states leading in cereal production, each 
laborer came to handle more than three acres for every two 
he had handled before. Here and in the entire North Central 
division, farms of over 10 acres increased over 50 per cent, 
in size during the two decades. In the South Atlantic states, 
where human labor has been less largely displaced by machinery, 
farms became 10 per cent, smaller. 


Effect of power on production 

Fewer men, with more animals, not only handle greater 
areas, but receive greater rewards. Iowa, with nearly four 
horses to each farm hand in 1899, gave each man sixty acres 
of crops and an income of $611, after paying interest on her 
investment. North Carolina and Alabama, with approxi- 
mately two work animals to each three laborers, restricted 
each man to thirteen acres, and paid him less than one fourth 
as much for his work. Quaintance believes the average farmer 
to have been 42 per cent, better off financially in 1899 than in 


1849, even considering the variation in the purchasing power 
of money. In the North Atlantic, North Central, and Western 
sections he was a trifle more than twice as well off, and in the 
two latter sections, where the greatest increase occurred in 
the introduction of farm machinery and farm power, he was 
three times as prosperous. Midhall, in his "Dictionary of 
Statistics," issued lq 1899, states that "In the United States 
nine million hands raised nearly half as much grain as sixty- 
six miUion in Europe." Germany owns one fifth as many 
horses as the United States for practically the same farm popu- 
lation. With the assistance of such a preponderance in power, 
the American farmer has been able to produce, albeit waste- 
fuUy, from three to three and one half times as much as his 
competitor along the Rhine. 

Changing the shape of materials, which we now call manu- 
facturing, began with the grinding of grains and nuts into 
foodstuffs; the spinning and weaving of fibres into articles of 
dress; the shaping of stone, wood, and metals into implements 
and dwellings. It began with the human muscle. Even to- 
day the Russian peasants grind the grain by rubbing it between 
two stones. In other countries the circular millstone was 
developed and the animal harnessed. The work of spinning 
and weaving was done at first entirely by hand and foot. The 
later form of the loom was operated by animals from a tread- 
mill. James Watt invented the steam engine in 1765 and 
since his time the industry of the world has centred in the 
steam-driven factory. More and more, mechanical power 
has been substituted for the human muscle, until to-day 
in manufacturing the master workman is but the intelligent 
onlooker, furnishing the machine with material and guiding 
its work. 

The manufacturing industries of the United States even 
now probably have less than three fourths the power installa- 
tion that is found on our farms, and not far from the same ratio 
of laborers. On the other hand, where the farm horse works 


less than 1000 hours per year, the engine in the power plant 
works double that or more. Beween 1890 and 1905 animal 
power on the farm increased a third, while mechanical power 
in factories increased 146 per cent. Laborers, too, flocked 
to the factories, and in the same time the excess in number of 
farm over factory workers fell from 75 to 35 per cent. 

From transporting men and materials from place to place 
arises the third great need for power. Originally, this work was 
done by the human muscle; man walked, carrying a load on 
his back. Later, he learned to harness the animal, and down 
through the Middle Ages to the beginning of our century, 
animals drew the freight of the world over country roads in 
wagons. With the invention of Stephenson, who appHed the 
power of steam in the field of transportation, came our modem 
railway net that to-day encircles the earth, and bears a steam- 
driven commerce that has linked the nations together. Just 
a centiuy ago Fulton applied the power of steam to water 

Artificial power has been applied to commercial transporta- 
tion as to no other industry. Leaving out of consideration 
the electric railways, automobiles and all other forms of motor 
traction, and considering only the railways, we must try hard 
if we grasp the magnitude of the force that has pushed civili- 
zation from coast to coast and filled up every foot of promising 
area between. Five years ago the farm employed eight 
laborers to the railway's one, but the railway put into that 
one man's hand sixty horsepower, to two for the average farm 
hand. The railway forged ahead of the farm in power installed 
little more than a decade ago. Now it is adding power and 
men much faster than the farm, and enormously increasing 
its wealth and influence. Ten years ago, five horsepower worked 
to transport each passenger across the sea in ships. Now, on 
the LusUania, already overtopped by a more powerful rival, 
thirty horsepower are throbbing in the engine room to bear 
him on with greater speed and comfort. Four times the poten- 


tial power of our farm equipment is represented by our machin- 
ery of distribution, and double the annual use is made of it. 

If George Washington were to come to earth now, and 
should visit the steel mills at Gary, or some busy machine-shop 
Tvhere huge plowing tractors are being made, he would be 
hopelessly bewildered. It is all beyond the philosophy of a 
man who lived one hundred years ago. There is hardly a 
process which he would understand. But if a contemporary 
of Moses, who was a good farmer, should come to earth and 
visit an ordinary American farm he would recognize practi- 
cally every process. The industrial revolution, the steam en- 
gine, electricity, everythiag that goes to make up the steel 
age, have in fifty years created a greater difference in the 
production of the world, except in agricultiu-e, than has been 
made since the days of Pharaoh. The corresponding revolu- 
tion in agriculture has only just begim. 

When Colonial America was in the age of homespim, the 
manufacture of the necessities of life kept workers on the farm. 
Mighty cities were impossible, since four families in the country 
could support but one in town by their surplus products. 
But when the steam engine entered the factory, capital and 
the most ambitious blood of the country were drawn to the 
cities. The farm worker, hard pressed by the demand for 
foodstuffs, sought larger areas, more power animals and better 
implements to meet the new necessity. Ox teams carried the 
pioneer far into the land of promise. He was one who must 
endure isolation, great hardships, and small returns. His 
inherited wisdom went for naught. He became an inventor, 
an experimentalist. Communication was slow, but that 
meant little, for principles of scientific agricultiure were not yet 
formulated. Hard work prevailed where study was impossible 
and money for equipment wanting. The independent settler, 
working out his own salvation, disdained cooperative effort 
when real opportunity came. His development was one-sided, 
his farm organization small and unbusiness-like. Even to-day 


the tiller of 25,000 profitable acres is hailed as captain of 

Yet the farmer has prospered. Our farms produce a million 
dollars an hour, and one rural family feeds two in the city. 
The farmer of to-day has wonderful agencies to make his work 
easy. Farm machinery has been marvelously perfected. 
Railroads simplify the exchange of products. Agricultural 
scientists are solving his problems, and the telephone, telegraph, 
and rural free delivery bring him daily news of the latest dis- 
covery. The automobile, with its tremendous influence for 
good roads, banishes isolation and puts him into quick touch 
with markets. Modem conveniences in the home remove a 
thousand hardships. Nearby towns, with banks, elevators, 
and stores, handle his products and supply him with necessities 
which formerly depended on his own ingenuity and skill. 

With all this assistance, the American farmer is falling 
behind in his work. Four prosperous decades have brought 
to our shores hordes of European peasants, have increased our 
population one and a third times and each mouth takes a fourth 
more wheat than before. In the past America has been called 
upon to feed not only her own natural increase in population 
and the outpouring of the nations of Europe, but millions of 
those who remained behind. Faster, surer methods than had 
ever before prevailed were necessary. Intensive cultivation 
deferred to extensive production, and the task was accomplished. 
The United States now faces a different problem — that of 
feeding a swiftly increasing population with a slowly increasing 
acreage. Intensive methods and more power must be appUed. 
Teachings of agricultural scientists must be universally heeded. 
Better seed, deeper plowing, more thorough tillage, must lay 
the foimdation for greater yields from each acre. Waste places 
must be reclaimed, our whole productive area developed and 
occupied. But our present needs are enormous, increasing 
more swiftly than these ideals can be realized. Greater areas 
must be brought immediately into productiveness, must main- 


tain maximum yields indefinitely, if production is to keep pace 
with demand. 

The lack of power for plowing is the greatest obstacle to 
the extension of our wheat raising area into virgin fields and 
the realization of greater returns from our older lands. This 
work of plowing with which man began his systematic labor 
remains to-day his severest toil. For man, as well as animals 
on the farm, the dusty monotonous work of plowing is the 
hardest drudgery. Think of thjB .power raju^ to pull a 
plow only the distance across the room, and then of the efgHt 
and one. fouxti miles of furrow travel in every acre of Jb,nd. 
To plow a square mile with a twelve-inch plow, one man and 
two or three horses must^each walk 5?80 miles, the team con- 
stantly exerting power enough to move ten tons over a city 
street. It is easier, and the distance less, to walk aromid'the 
earth at the equator than to follow such a plow turning a tract 
of five square miles. To plow three townships the plowman 
must walk as far as from the earth to the moon and back again, 
and sixty thousand miles farther. To equal our annual tale 
of plowing, seventeen to twenty plowmen must make a round 
trip to the sim. Pulling a plow three and one half inches 
deep through prairie sod is equivalent to lifting a constant 
load of seven hundredweight. The plowmen in the United 
States turn over each year two billion tons of earth. They 
exert power enough to lift the visible portion of Manhattan to 
one and a half times the height of the EiflFel Tower, and the 
cost of their work places an annual tax of $25 on every family 
in this broad land of ours. 

Plowing is the gre atest single item . pf_poiEgt_£Qnsumption 
on the , farm. To plpw^ an acre of old land, the farm horse 
works from eight to fifteen hours under a greater strain than 
in any other task. One fifth his total hours o f work and_one 
third his yearly expenditure of power in the Com Belt are. at 
the^plpw. In small jgrain se ctions one fou rth his jbiours and 
one half his power are expended in turning thie soil. Plowing 


consumes 43 per cent, of the power spent on the corn crop 
up to the moment of harvest, and 60 per cent, of thejiower 
required to place wheat on the ground in bundles ready for 
shocking. Even this expenditure of power is not great enough. 
A summary of opinions from eight experiment stations places 
the average depth of plowing for com by the best farmers at 
from four and three quarters to five and one quarter inches. 
Almost mthout exception it is recommended that from one to five 
inches be added to the depth to secure maximum yields! 

Over twenty-five millions of horses and mules are now kept 
on farms to four millions in cities. Probably fifteen miUions 
are ordinarily used for farm work. The remainder comprise 
the colts and breeding stock required to keep up the supply 
for town and country, the driving horses and the idlers. In 
the plowing season tlie young and old, the able and the infirm, 
must bend to the coUar for four weeks of muscle-straining 
drudgery — drudgery that so reduces the animals in weight and 
vitality that even the long period of Hght work and idleness 
preceding_^e. harvest scarce enables them to recover their 
condi tion. And yet, with all this toil there comes from the 
West the plea for deeper plowing to establish a moisture re- 
servoir; from the com belt and the South for a deeper and more 
mellow feeding area for plant roots. To supply these condi- 
tions requires power — power that cannot be economically 
supplied by animals because of the high cost of maintenance 
and the lack of work during all but a few weeks each year. 
To double the depth of plowing means keeping nearly seven 
horses for the twenty to thirty days of plowing to each one 
required at any other time save the brief harvest. 

In the easiest plowing, five or six horsepower-hours are 
consumed in plowing an acre. Ten, twenty, even forty, horse- 
power-hours must be applied to more difficult soils for the same 
result. In addition, the mere effort of a man and two horses in 
walking over the ground consumes seven million foot-pounds 
of energy to the acre on the best of footing. Ten horsepower- 


hours consumed in forward progression and useful work is a 
minimum figure for the acre, three billion for the nation. Only 
40 per cent, of the area of continental United States will be 
improved in 1940, according to Mark A. Carleton, cereahst 
of the United States Department of Agriculture. Deeper 
plowing must be universal — twenty horsepower-hours to the 
acre must be the rule instead of the exception — fifteen billion 
horsepower-hours the amount of power spent annually in 
turning the soil if the nation is to be fed. Twenty-three mil- 
Uon work horses must be used for one thousand hours per 
year, ninety to one hundred and fifteen millions for the 
hours now available for plowing, if the work is to be done by 
animal power. 

For each work horse and the surplus needed to keep up the 
supply, five or more acres of harvested crops are required for 
support. Greater animal power applied to each acre will 
increase the yield, but not so fast as it will multiply the number 
of animals required to produce that power within the brief 
plowing season. We can even conceive that with the highest 
possible yield secured by the application of animal power to 
the plow, the area required to maintain the animals will leave 
little or nothing for the production of human food. The 
percentage of the total area devoted to power production 
must decrease, rather than increase. More acres must be added 
to our farm area, more bushels garnered from every acre, and 
less fed to unprofitable animals if we are to maintain our place 
among the prosperous nations of the world. 

The animal muscle has reached its present perfection 
only after ages of natural selection, extending back to the 
very dawn of life. Centuries of breeding and selection by man 
have advanced the animal in size, but otherwise only to a 
slight degree in efficiency. Further perfection must be slow, 
individual rather than racial. Many mechanical motors already 
surpass the horse in commercial efficiency — some in the 
ability to convert latent chemical energy into useful work. 


The anim al must have frequent rest while at work. Under 
average farm condilTons it is idle eight hours in nine, yet it 
must be kept warm and sheltered, must be fed and watered 
three times a day whether in use or not. It deteriorates rapidly 
jn use or idleness, and is subject to premature death. Two 
per cent, of all horses die of disease each year, and their working 
life is less than ten titiousand hours of actual service. 

The new farm power, the mechanical tractor, does not age 
nor deteriorate when idle, and requires neither fuel nor attend- 
ance when not at work. It solves the peak loads in agricul- 
ture — seed time and harvest time. The time spent annually 
in caring for one horse will keep it in perfect working condition, 
A mass of tireless but obedient steel, it will endure heavy work 
twenty four hours instead of six, and outlive the average work 
animal in hours of service. It can be sheltered with a year's 
fuel supply in a tenth the space required by horses of equal 
power and their feed. It concentrates in one man's hands the 
power of twenty horses, the endurance of a hundred, and adds 
many fold to the acres he can cultivate. For the present it 
consimies nothing from acres which might produce food for 

At the close of the nineteenth century there remained 
practically no field which the manufacturer and inventor had 
not touched upon in the effort to conserve human labor. 
Mechanical power and invention had largely fulfilled their 
immediate promise to the industries of making and carrying, and 
with the twentieth century dawned the last great epoch in the 
transition from hand to machine power in human enterprise. 
Agriculture, the greatest of all industries, awoke fully to the 
necessity for greater power — mechanical power. The duty 
of agriculture is to supply food for the people, raw material 
for manufactures, and products for trade and transportation. 
With the introduction of machinery and animal power, this 
task has been accomplished with relatively fewer and fewer 
workmen. The application of mechanical power, which is 


now the most promising development in agriculture, will 
permit of a further reduction in the numbers required to 
supply food and other materials, and force a greater return 
from the soil to keep pace with the constant increase in popu- 
lation. America has taught the world the conservation of 
human labor by power machinery in manufactures and dis- 
tribution; she must teach herself the use of power machinery 
in agriculture or keep more and more of her workmen from 
their places in the struggle for national commercial supremacy. 

"Every invention which enables mechanical power tosup- 
I-lant animal power is a distinct advantage to society," says 
Doctor Hunt. It is not to be supposed that mechanical power 
will entirely supplant the animal, even as brute power has 
never displaced the human muscle. In the history of the 
human race, man's activities have ever increased with his 
opportunities. The introduction of mechanical power on the 
farm will augment man's resources rather than change entirely 
his soiu-ces of motive power. The influence of power on manu- 
factures and transportation is an indication of what may be 
expected in agriculture. Not only will production be increased 
and systematized but farm organization will take on in greater 
degree the aspect of the factory. Efficient production de- 
mands large units. Farms which can be operated by mechanical 
power must continue to grow larger and more centrally con- 
trolled. Ownership and management will inevitably approach 
more and more that of the centralized industrial corporation, 
unless the individuaUty of the farmer can be maintained by 
effective cooperation. 

Ten years ago, at the University of Oxford, a lecturer on 
poUtical economy laid it down as axiomatic that science and 
invention, the division of labor, the law of diminishing returns, 
could do little to save human labor on the farm; that the con- 
ditions of its toil were nearly imalterable, its processes predes- 
tined to be slow. Yet these few years have seen immense 
advance, and to-day no forecast can predict the progress of 


the future, for man is clearly shaking off the heavier shackles 
of manual toiL Pipe and tabor no longer lead the procession 
of harvest home, but drudgery goes as well as romance, and a 
business air sets the thresher to factory pace. A manufac- 
turer's catalogue says "To-day a new world has opened for the 
fanner. To the aid of nature he has called the forces of science. 
His factory imder blue sky is as busy, and the wheels hum as 
merrily as imder any city-factory roof. Power — and the 
most economical, pliant, and efficient of all power — is at 
last his." 



IN SELECTING a tractor for plowing, there are 
countless factors to be taken into consideration. 
In choosing a particular motor out of a general class, 
its adaptabiUty to the most pressing work must 
be considered. However, before coming to that point, the 
broader question of the type of power must be settled. It 
would be next- to impossible here to compare intelligently the 
multitude of breeds and types, but a brief comparison of the 
animal, steam and gas motors should be reviewed before making 
the final selection. In purchasing a motor for plowing, one 
should satisfy himself as to the investment; the efficiency ia 
various particulars; the question of fuel supply; the cost of 
maintenance during work and idleness; the attendance re- 
quired; the concentration of power; the speed; effect upon the 
soil; the range of usefulness; the endurance and the many 
phases of each and every one of these essential considerations. 
The horse is the product of thousands of years of natural 
selection and of three centuries of careful breeding. The best 
examples of his kind have seen but little improvement during 
the century and a half of steam engine history. The steam 
tractor is old and the gas tractor new. The traction mechan- 
ism of both is in about the same state of perfection, but in a 
quarter of a century of real development the gas engine has 
become thermally much more efficient than the steam engine. 
We may look for more rapid progress in the gas engine than in 
the steam engine or the horse, but as an average of all represen- 



tatives of each class, the two latter have the advantage of 
reliability gained in many more years of field service. 

One horse cares for twenty-five acres of crops. To his 
value of $150 to $250 must be added the value of his harness, 
and the breeding stock necessary to maintain the supply. For 
every horse at work the farmer has an investment of $250 to 
$300, or more than $10 per acre. A steam engine complete 
with all equipment, except plows, will cost about the same as 
a gas tractor of equal tractive horsepower with its less exten- 
sive accessories. For each actual drawbar horsepower, either 
type of engine and its equipment will cost from $90 to $100 in 
the sizes commonly used for plowing. For the ordinary size, 
the farmer's investment per acre is thus about half what is 
required with horses. The smaller the tractor the greater 
the cost per horsepowet, hence in the smallest sizes the ad- 
vantage in investment is wiped out. 

These figures take no account of the fact that the farmer's 
horses are part of a factory equipment for producing power 
animals, hence the investment in tractor factories should 
possibly be considered also. On the other hand, the farmer 
who does not raise his horses must pay a higher price than is 
assumed above. In the West a sound, well-trained horse, 
capable of developing a full mechanical horsepower in plowing, 
brings from $200 to $300. Western Canada in 1910 imported 
$10,000,000 worth of horses at the rate of $300 each, 
and pressed thousands of oxen into service at the plow for 
want of horse flesh at any price. The mechanical motor can 
be more quickly supphed to meet the needs of the season, as 
factories working over-time can maintain an enormous out- 
put, while a steady demand in the horse market waits four 
years for a response. 

The plow equipment required for each acre tilled by the horse, 
is small. Three horses require a sulky plow, costing $40 and 
plowing seventy-five acres per year, or less than 50 cents an 
acre. A large steam engine will require an investment of 


approximately $1.00 per acre plowed annually. The gas 
tractor, pulling a lesser number of plows, will require as much 
as the steam engine, or perhaps a trifle more, as the smaller 
sizes of plow cost more in proportion. 

While at work the horse requires the greatest amount of 
labor, the steam engine next and the gas tractor the least. 
However, the horse while at work requires no adjustment, no 
other attention than driving, and his food and water may be 
taken at any convenient time and place. The tractor's fuel 
and water is most cheaply brought to it, while the horse 
economically goes after his. During idleness the horse 
requires daily care, keeping men on the farm when no other 
work requires their attention. He must be kept constantly 
warm and sheltered, fed, watered, and protected from injury 
and disease, while the tractor needs simply cleaning and oiling 
when set away, and thorough overhauling before again being 
put in commission. 

One man may drive five horses, and in some cases even 
twenty-five, but only in certain operations. Three to six men 
and from two to six horses keep a steam engine at work with 
the power of forty horses, one man controlling the power of 
from six to twelve horses. With the gas tractor, one man 
may control the equivalent of from twenty to thirty horses, 
but the plowman's time must also be considered, since 
with the horse outfit the driver is both engineer and plow- 

The average farmer knows the horse by instinct. A great 
many operators know the steam engine well enough for prac- 
tical purposes. Five years ago the gas engine was a mystery 
to the average farmer. Now the stationary gas engine and the 
automobile have educated him to the point where he regards 
the gas engine as the next thing to the horse in simplicity. 
Ordinary farm labor will more quickly grasp and operate the 
gas tractor than the steam tractor, although much harm was 
done in the early days of the gas tractor by unwarranted 


claims as to the class of labor which can safely be intrusted 
with it. 

Of the three classes, the horse develops continuously the least 
power in proportion to his weight, and his bulk is distributed 
over a wider ground area, making his use in large units cum- 
bersome. For each horse in the field, 20 to 25 square feet 
must be allowed, while in a tractor the power of sixty horses 
may be concentrated in a single unit, requiring less than 5 
square feet for each horsepower. In the units where horses 
and tractors compete, the engine is much more easily ma- 
nipulated. While the bulk of the tractor is concentrated, the 
actual supporting surface on the ground is sufficient to reduce 
the pressure per unit to, or only shghtly above, the pressure of 
the horse's foot. 

The conunercial success of any type of power depends to 
considerable extent on its fuel economy. The steam engine 
at the present time uses a wide range of fuels, taking them 
just as they come. Its sources of supply are wide, and its 
most convenient fuel, coal, is by no means exhausted. The 
gas engine, as used on tractors, requires fuel that has been made 
fit for use by a refining process, hence the sources of supply 
are more easily controlled by individuals. The steam engine 
of the present and the alcohol engine of the future will make 
use of all the waste materials about the farm. The horse 
utiUzes no waste material, except certain unimproved pas- 
tures, and for the production of power requires a large part of 
the most valuable products of the farm. His fuel, however 
may be raised by every farmer every year, and on many sections 
of Western prairie, a great portion of his maintenance still 
comes from wild hay, which can be stored during slack seasons 
at the mere cost of gathering. 

In utilizing fuel, the average farm horse in any year prob- 
ably converts less than 2 per cent, of heat supplied into energy 
delivered. The steam engine in plowing has only the same 
ratio or a trifle more, while the gas tractor at the same time 


converts from 10 to 15 per cent, of the heat energy in its fuel 
into useful work. In stationary work the power of the horse 
is decreased in transmission, while both types of tractor save 
the enormous loss due to the propulsion of their own weight, 
the steam engine delivering 4 to 6 per cent, and the gas engine 
from 20 to 25 per cent, of its fuel energy to the driving belt. 

The local cost and quality of fuels will vary widely, but the 
following table, showing the heat imits which could be 
bought wholesale for $1.00 under northern Indiana conditions, 
gives a fair idea of the relative cost of energy in various fuels: 







FOB $1.00 

Bituminous coal 

$3.00 per ton 

13000 per lb. 


Hard wood (dry) 

8.00 " cord 

8500 " " 


Kerosene 44° 

.32 " gallon 

20000 " " 


Anthracite coal 

7.00 " ton 

14000 " • 



10,00 " " 

8100 " " 


Gasoline 64° 

. 10 " gallon 

20000 " " 



.30 " bushel 

8400 " " 



.50 " 

8000 " " 


Illuminating gas 

1.20 " 1000 cu. ft. 

550 " cu. ft. 


Alcohol, 90 per cent. 

.45 " gallon 

11500 " lb. 


Low-priced fuel is not necessarily cheap fuel, as its value 
depends largely upon the heat imits it contains. Moreover, 
some cheap fuels are as cheap as they are, largely because 
scarcity has led to the general abandonment of their use. 
Cordwood, for instance, stands second on the list in point of 
cheap heat units, yet if any considerable dependence were 
placed upon its use for power, its price would be prohibitive. 
Some of the lightest petroleum products are in the same 
category, and, as we have seen, others are tending to become 
scarce. At the prevailing prices it would seem that even the 
more abundant petroleum fuels are almost prohibitive in cost 
for a given quantity of heat units. However, even heat 
units are not a reliable indication of the value of a fuel for 


power production. We must remember that coal and wood 
are used only in steam engines, which waste far more energy 
than the motors burning gasoline and kerosene. The animal 
motor on the farm, converting into power for plowing a low 
percentage of the energy it receives, places the products of 
the field far down the list as power producers. 

The engine will outlast the horse, if properly cared for. 
Repairs cost no more than shoeing and veterinary attendance. 
The storage space for the animal and its food must be enor- 
mously greater than that for the tractor. In the city, the 
forty-horsepower auto seems lost in a comer of the bam which 
formerly housed a half dozen horses, their feed and equipment, 
and the modem garage in the back yard seems like a playhouse. 
On the farm the shed for the tractor is insignificant compared 
with the horse barn and needs far less care in its construction. 
A ton of hay occupies from 400 to 600 cubic feet of space; a 
ton of coal from 35 to 40 cubic feet; a ton of gasoline about 47 
cubic feet; and a ton of kerosene about 40 cubic feet. Given 
the space required to store the work horse's feed for an hour, 
one would figure on about 10 per cent, as much per tractive 
horsepower hour for a steam engine, 2.5 per cent, for the 
gasoline engine, and 2.3 per cent, for the kerosene engine. 

One horse plows an acre per day. The steam plowing en- 
gine plows thirty acres in the daytime, and as much more at 
night, if required. The gas tractor, stopping less often for 
supplies, may compare favorably with the larger steam tractor, 
since it will travel more miles in a day for the same geared 
speed. The horse must cease work for rest while either tractor 
works on. The gas tractor carries fuel and water for the day. 
It can go farther from the base of supplies than the horse, 
which must have food and drink every eight miles of plowing, 
or the steam tractor, which runs short of water in two. 

Endurance is the horse's weakest point, and flexibility his 
strongest. By coupling from one to ten large horses together 
in teams of different size, one has economical motors of from one 


to ten horsepower. In an emergency each horse may double 
or triple his power, and sustain it for some time without injury. 
The steam engine through the expansive force of steam, is more 
flexible than the gas tractor and the wide range in point of 
cutoff gives it admirable overload capacity. In the gas engine 
the maximum power is developed at the moment of explosion. 
A considerable momentum, suflicient to carry the tractor over 
ordinary emergencies, is stored in the flywheel. However, 
if a sudden obstacle overloads the gas tractor while its speed 
is reduced, it promptly stops working. In that respect it is 
perhaps the most advanced of the three, since it tolerates less 
abuse on the part of the operator. 

As conditions are found on the farm, the horse has probably 
the widest range of usefulness. His economy in small power 
units, his great overload capacity, and the fact that he is 
ordinarily ready at an instant's notice, make him by far the 
most convenient power for widely diversified work. For oper- 
ations requiring stationary power or great tractive power, he is 
seriously handicapped, and yields to both types of tractor. 
The steam engine is economical of labor only in the largest 
units, hence is adapted more particularly for enormous 
volumes of work in the field. Its great weight adapts it to 
plowing new land and heavy hauling on good roads, rather than 
for lighter work, though the lack of suitable bridges reduces 
its usefulness in the latter particular. The gas tractor is eco- 
nomical of fuel and labor in both large and small units. It is 
generally Ughter than the steam tractor for the same tractive 
effort and is made in more widely divergent forms. It is 
cleaner and more convenient to handle, is much quicker to start, 
and undoubtedly stands second to the animal in general utility. 

In so far as it is possible to generalize in ranking the three 
types of power for plowing purposes on the foregoing essen- 
tials, it has been done in the following table. Only the stand- 
ard representatives of each type are, of course, considered. 
Aside from the factors, involved in selecting a motor for plow- 



ing, several are included which have to do with its usefulness 
for general power purposes. To the many exceptions which 
may be taken, the only answer is that the ranking has not 
been imdertaken except after exhaustive study of the adap- 
tability of the standard general-purpose tractors to plowing 
in a wide sweep of territory, presenting an extreme range of 
farm conditions, in which naturally, many cases can be cited 
to which few of these assignments will apply. 









Flexibility in power 








Range of usefulness 




Necessity for adjustment 




Ease of repair 




Endurance in hours of work per day 




Period of work without renewing supplies 




Concentration of power in ground area 




Investment in power per acre tilled 




Investment in plows per acre tilled 




Storage space per tractive h.p. of motor 




Storage space for fuel per tractive h.p.-hr. 




Quality of shelter required 




Cost of maintenance in idleness 




Cost of operation in small units 




Cost of operation in medium to large units 




Cost of operation in very large units 




Skill required in operation 




Amount of labor in operation 




Frequency of attention in idleness 




Weight of fuel per unit of work 




Weight of water per unit of work 




Variety of fuels utilized 




Distribution of common fuels 




Convenience in handling of fuel 




Cost of energy in fuels 




Thermal efiBciency in stationary work 




Thermal efficiency in plowing 




Tractive power in relation to weight 




Tractive power in relation to stationary power 




Stationary power in relation to weight 




Mechanical efficiency 




Pressure exerted upon soil 




Promise of future improvement 









2d or 


3d or 


Farm Horse 




Steam Tractor 




Gas Tractor 




A thousand and one variable factors operate to shift the 
advantage in economy from one type of power to another, 
A thousand factors other than cost make one power the most 
adaptable to a given problem. Conditions are not exactly 
the same on any two farms and each farmer must decide for him- 
self the type of power best adapted to his use. After that he 
should attempt to secure by a single purchase a motor that is 
simple, durable, reUable, and efficient — adaptable to its work, 
its working conditions, the inteUigence of its operator, and 
the fuel which he is able to provide most easily and at the 
lowest cost. 



THE field that is now ripe for the introduction of 
tractors on American farms alone is enormous, 
without considering future and foreign opportuni- 
ties. The tractor is best adapted, as we have 
seen, to the raising of cereals. Thirty-five per cent, of the 
horses and mules of the United States are foimd in ten cereal- 
producing states where tractors are already used in large 
numbers. In 1909, Minnesota, the two Dakotas, Montana, 
Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and California 
had 8,766,000 horses and mules of all ages, worth $859,444,000, 
according to the latest Year Book of the Department of Agri- 
culture. This is over five times our total annual output of 
tractors and farm machinery for both domestic and export 
trade. Many farmers in these states are replacing four horses 
out of five with gas tractors. Let the average man replace 
but one in five, and there is sale for over 60,000 tractors at 
$2500 to $3000 each. To pay cash for them would take less 
than one seventh of the crop values produced in these states 
in the year mentioned. 

The tractor will eventually occupy much of this field. It 
already saves enormously in the cost of production and mar- 
keting. In the future we may expect to see great improve- , 
ment in performance as operators become more and more 
skilled. We may look for cheaper costs of manufacture when 
machines are standardized, when designing has been reduced 
to a written science and when the experimental cost has been 



A swift trip to the creamery 

Pulling harvesters and a lift plow 

Reclaiming waste areas] 


distributed among many machines of the standard types. 
The tractor is at the dawn, rather than the twilight, of its 

The rapidly increasing sale of tractors Is due quite largely 
to the many new uses to which they have been put. The traction 
engine has developed from a monstrous toy into a powerful 
and efficient servant. Its influence on the plow and production 
has already been discussed. With the plow and the thresher 
it has revolutionized the grain-raising industry, made possible 
the settling of the Great American Desert, cheapened the cost, 
and tremendously improved the quality, of our daily bread. 
The same engines that solve the dry-farming problem may have 
to cross rough fields with the threshing separator, ford streams 
where bridges are unsafe or have not yet been built, and even 
climb sizable mountains. It is all in the day's work, and has 
no terrors for the experienced tractioneer. Perhaps the house 
or granary needs moving, or maybe it is a load of lumber from 
the railway. Possibly the road has to be built first, or perhaps 
the railway, and after sawing timber for bridges and ties, the 
tractor must grade the embankment all the way from farm to 
the flour mill. 

OflF the farm the tractor has made possible the utilization 
of many out-of-the-way patches of timber, and numerous 
small deposits of stone have been turned by its aid into crushed 
surfacing material for the highway. It is rapidly displacing 
the horse in building and maintaining country roads. It digs 
irrigation canals and fills drainage ditches. Contractors are 
employing it more and more in the arts of peace, and nations 
are increasing its use for the business of war. It has hauled 
machinery to the mines, raised the ore and carried it to the 
railroad or smelter. It has brought enormous logs out of the 
forest where big teams of horses could not manoeuvre. It hauls 
the drill and the well casing to the oil field and helps produce 
its own fuel. Even that most marvelously organized thing, 
the modem circus, is playing traitor to the elephant and shifting 


its heavy trucks with the traction engine, which also runs a 
dynamo for lighting the evening show. 

What the tractor has done in the past is but an inkling of 
what it may do to aid hiunanity in the future. However, 
its benefits wiU not be universally enjoyed imtil men universally 
reahze its usefidness and contribute more generously than in 
the past to making conditions favorable for its work. Its 
future is by no means entirely in the hands of its manufacturer, 
nor yet of the farmer alone. 

The future^ of the tractor depends a greaX deal on the educa- 
tion of the people. The average farmer is familiar. with the 
horse from childhood. His son is learning the art of running 
an engine, and colleges are educating a few in both the art 
and the science. This phase of agricultural college work should 
be richly endowed, since it is also giving students a broad grasp 
of the profession of agricultural engineering. This will fit 
thCTa for directing the organization of farms and rural com- 
munities on a more efficient basis, and the greatest efficiency 
in the future will be realized by the use of all forms of 
mechanical power. 

The farm, after all, is really an engineering proposition. After 
the chemist, the botanist, and the fertihty expert have deter- 
mined how a crop shall be raised, the actual raising of it is a 
mechanical problem. The storing of the crop, its transporta- 
tion, its protection from the elements and living enemies, 
all require the exercise of engineering knowledge. There is a 
need for a great national bureau in the Department of Agri- 
culture to bring the engineering problems of the farmer to a 
focus, where they may be solved by the men best qualified. 
The farmer often fails to analyze the need for some machine 
until it appears on the market. The manufacturer is often 
handicapped in his investigation of the field for new machinery 
by his lack of training in the problems of the farm. He is 
forced to hesitate Ln developing new types to meet apparent 
needs by the necessity of securing a commercial success. He is 


thus apt to wait until forced into new departures. He needs 
the broader outlook which could be secured from a central 
organization having the viewpoint of the manufacturer, the 
farmer, and the general public, all in one. The nations of 
Europe, even Russia, are years ahead of us in this respect. 

More suitable machinery is needed for making use of the 
tractor's power, and to some extent the tractor's success is 
dependent on the progressiveness of manufacturers in other 
Unes. The case is somewhat parallel to that of the edge-drop 
com planter, which was not a brilliant success until after 
agricultural colleges had induced farmers to grade their seed 
corn. Then the new style planter proved to be far ahead of 
the old, even in the latter's best days. 

We already have very eflBcient engine gang plows, but in 
the main we are using the harrows, drills, and harvesters 
developed for use with horses. Recently an experimental grain 
drill of greater width and strength has been offered for engine 
power, while other companies have just put forward large double- 
disk harrows, which are compact and thorough in their work. 
Another company makes a very efficient device for hitching a 
number of binders together, adding many days each year to the 
use of the engine. Large, heavy wagons, designed to follow 
the track of the engine aroimd any comer, add to the possible 
length of the wagon train, and are so devised that they may be 
drawn from either end to adapt them for us in close quarters 
and save time in turning. As a rule, however, the farmer must 
use some machine suited to animal power, and not strong 
enough to withstand the strain when the power of from twenty 
to thirty animals is exerted against a single point. No engineer 
has as yet earned lasting gratitude by devising an easily manu- 
factured hitch, whereby these various implements can be 
conveniently attached in numbers sufficient to utilize the full 
power of the engine. Even the plowmaker could add to the 
success of the small tractor by devising a simple means for 
enabling the engine driver to handle the plows easily without 


leaving his platform. A simple, durable and efficient power- 
lift plow, using some other mediiun than steam, would assist 
in the solution of this problem. 

But the tractor has still greater opportunities open to it. 
Had the steam tractor become even fairly well perfected in the 
early days of the nineteenth century, before Stephenson brought 
forth his railway, the latter might easily have been delayed for 
several generations. In its place we might have now a nation 
closely knit together by a system of excellent roads, upon which 
our freight and passenger traffic would proceed. But empire 
builders have pushed smooth steel roads over easy grades into 
all comers of the continent, and brought the ton-mUe cost of 
freight on heavily patronized lines to three eighths of a cent. 
On our crude rural highw;ays, horses haul farm products at 
twenty-three cents per ton-mile and the best tractors at ten 
cents, competing with the locomotive only ia the ability to 
traverse the byways and penetrate the fields left vacant by the 
network of railway steel. 

Brandeis startled the world by declaring that he could save 
the railroads of the country $300,000,000 a year, simply by 
improving their efficiency. What then might the nation be 
saved if possible reductions were made in the cost of trans- 
porting farm products.'' Mechanical power has revolutionized 
transportation on railways and steamships, but masters of the 
art have neglected the opportunity to apply it to a business 
which the United States Office of Public Roads estimates at 
a half billion dollars yearly. The opportunity of saving three 
fourths of this cost by the introduction of mechanical power is 
as startling as its neglect is deplorable. 

Why has the traction engine not already saved the greater 
part of this preventable waste.'' The answer is, that it is 
more sadly handicapped than the horse by the conditions that 
cause the waste — to wit, bad road surfaces and steep grades. 
It is here, much more than in plowing, that the wonderful 
flexibiUty of the horse finds its greatest usefulness. The gas 


tractor, with its capacity for making an average round trip 
from farm to railway without rest of supplies, is the worst 
handicapped of all. Taking advantage of nature's gift to the 
animal, we have built our highway system upon it, rather on 
the basis of efficiency. As a result of the system, it cost in 
1906, when ocean rates were imusually high, 1.6 cents, or 40 
per cent, more to haul a bushel of wheat 9.4 miles from the farm 
to the railway station, than to haul the same bushel 3100 miles 
from New York to Liverpool. 

In a report to the Country Life Conunission, from which 
these figures were taken, the Office of Public Roads states that 
the cost of haiding with horses over our wagon roads is not less 
than 23 cents per ton-mile, and probably 2 or 3 cents higher. 
On the good roads of France, England, and Germany, trans- 
portation with horses costs from 7 or 8 cents to 13 cents, or an 
average of 10 cents per ton-mile. With universally good roads 
the annual saving in our cost of hauling the products of farms 
and forests to the railway would be a quarter of a billion dollars 
on the basis of animal traction alone. Every argument in 
favor of good roads for horse haulage is doubled in force when 
we think of hauling with an engine. Better conditions for the 
use of mechanical power reduce the cost in geometrical ratio, 
until under the best conditions, as illustrated by the railroads, 
the cost is a trifling percentage of the tax now imposed by 
animals and bad roads. 

The steam tractor is not quite so badly handicapped by pres- 
ent conditions as the gas tractor. In England it is used ex- 
tensively for heavy transportation over public highways. With 
some changes in the design of tractor it might be possible to 
effect an enormous saving in America without such a sweeping 
improvement of roads as would make the gas tractor most 
efficient. However, significant of what can be done by the 
gas engine on short hauls with frequent stops is the growing 
tendency of steam roads to use comfortable gas-driven cars 
for local and suburban service. In the United States, more- 


over, the gas tractor has a better opportunity than in England, 
owing to the lower price of suitable fuel. 

The selling price of farm products is rarely under the farmer's 
control. His profits are represented by the difference between 
the selling price and the cost of production and transporta- 
tion to market. As the tractor cuts the cost of production, so 
it adds to his profits? AsTiflurther cuts the cost of road trans- 
portation, it adds greater profits without increasing the cost 
to the consumer, and by increasing agricultural prosperity, 
increases the welfare of the country, which is dependent upon 
that of the fanner. The cheap transportation secured by the 
use of better roads, which in turn favors the increased use of 
mechanical power, will enable the extension of the zone around 
each marketing centre in which certain bulky and perishable 
products can profitably be raised. It will increase land values. 
It will equalize supply and demand, since crops can be stored 
at the lowest cost on the farm and moved at any time during 
the year. It will equalize the traflBc upon railroads, and make 
Brandeis's saving easier. It will increase rural population, 
encourage the attendance of children at school, extend the 
usefulness of motor vehicles for passenger transportation, and 
develop an attractive social side to farm life. 

What do we need in the way of road improvement? In a 
nutshell, we need to eliminate grades and establish better road 
surfaces. The loss in traction efficiency due to poor surface 
has been shown elsewhere, and that due to grades is perhaps 
even greater. The power required to lift the prime mover 
itself up a certain grade is constant, regardless of surface, and 
the better the road surface the more rapidly will each percent- 
age of grade cut down the proportion of the tractor's total power 
which it can exert in pulling the load. To secure ideal condi- 
tions, we must have ' state- wide road laws and standards of 
quality in construction. Whether the road shall be built 
by state or national aid, or by county funds alone, is a matter 
of detail. The main point is, that the administration of these 


funds must be placed in more intelligent hands than at present. 
In the majority of states able highway engineers are prepared 
to investigate, advise and assist, and there their authority 
ceases. They should be empowered to put into practice the 
results of their experience and training. They should be 
assisted by competent highway supervisors, and road district 
units should be made much larger than at present, in order to 
afford and command the service of trained experts. 

In spite of the loyal assistance which the traction engine 
is now giving in building improved roads, the average legislator 
is imable to see in it anything but an ugly machine which scares 
horses, sets fire to property, breaks down bridges, and destroys 
road surfaces. As a matter of fact, manufacturers everywhere 
are willing to provide reasonable facilities for changing grouters 
on plowing engines once they are proved destructive. It is 
firmly established, however, that the pneumatic tire of the 
modern automobile is far more injurious to good roads than 
the heaviest steam tractor's drive-wheels. In fact, the state 
highway engineer of Wisconsin recommends the use of the 
traction engine in building and maintaining roads on account 
of the power which it makes available for doing good work with 
a grader, and because of the compacting effect of the wheels. 

Much of the opposition to the tractor comes from a well- 
organized purpose on the part of selfish interests to keep vehicles 
off the public road that will make it necessary to provide better 
and safer bridges. The control of public bridges is generally 
in the hands of the county supervisors, who are not chosen 
with reference to their engineering ability. In consequence, 
they are at the mercy of bridge-building concerns which make 
enormous profits out of the construction of flimsy bridges at 
excessive cost to the public. In crossing these bridges the 
tractioneer takes his life in his hands, and often is heavily 
liable as well for damage to the structure. The average state 
highway commission is powerless to do more than to recommend 
praiseworthy laws and specifications. In the face of a powerful 


lobby their recommendations count for little in the framing 
of intelligent and just legislation. 

Tractor manufacturers and the farming public must soon 
insist upon the right of the traction engine to its place on the 
public highways. Its abolishment would set the country back 
fifty years in its methods of wheat production, and cause un- 
told ruin and actual suffering through the shortage of food- 
stuffs. Why, then, should the owner of such an engine be re- 
garded in some states as a criminal in the eyes of the law while 
in pursuit of his daily occupation? Why should the farm 
tractor, which has created a new era in agriculture, and revo- 
lutionized the methods of doing countless tasks both on and 
off the farm, be discriminated against as a public nuisance? 
Here are questions for engine manufacturers, for farmers, 
engineers, and the intelligent business public to weigh carefully 
and act upon. 

The farm tractor solves the problem of our daily bread, 
and makes possible the utilization of our whole wheat- 
producing area. Its use is rapidly extending into the regions 
of smaller farms and more intensive farming. It holds out 
the promise of greater improvement and greater benefit to 
humanity in the future than the mechanical power applied to 
the great industries which have grown so enormously by its 
use. Until now the use of the tractor has been so limited, 
and the interests concerned in its manufacture and use so 
dwarfed by great industrial corporations, that the lack of 
just consideration from the public at large has been suffered 
quietly along with a host of other abuses in our social organiza- 
tion. Now, however, scores of well-estabUshed machinery 
concerns, representing the most intelligent and progressive 
manufacturing class of the nation, and tens of thousands of 
engine owners and operators, are directly concerned with the 
future of the tractor. Indirectly, but no less actually, the 
whole population of the country, and of our rural districts in 
particular, is interested in the attitude of publie officials toward 


it. Its unrestricted development as an aid to mankind de- 
pends upon this attitude, which in the past has been neutral, 
even hostile. In the future the embarrassments which have been 
imposed must be removed, and constructive measures must 
be taken to widen the tractor's sphere of usefulness, or else 
the great opportunity which is offered by this cheap, convenient, 
and efficient servant of humanity will fall short of a full 


(1) Specific gravity = weight (lbs. per gallon) x 12 

(2) Weight (lbs. per gal.) = specific gravity 


(3) Baume gravity = 140 

specific gravity 

(4) Spedfic gravity = 140 -f- 

130 + (Baume gravity) 

(5) Indicated horsepower (I.h.p.) = PxLxAxN 

in which P = mean effective pressure (M.E.P.) in pounds per square inch; 
L=length of stroke in feet; A = area of piston in inches; N = number of 
power impulses per minute. 

(6) For steam en^es: 
IJi.p, = 2PLAN 


(7) For four-cycle, single-acting, throttle-governed gas engines: 
I.h.p. = PLAN 

33000 X 2 

(8) Brake horsepower (B.h.p.) = 2x3.1416xLxNxF, 

in which L = length of brake arm; N = r.p.m. of flywheel; F=: weight on 
scale beam. 

(9) Drawbar h.p. = speed (mi. per hr.) x drawbar pull 


(10) Mechanical efficiencies B.h.p. 




(11) Tractive efficiency = Drawbar h.p . 

(12) Thermal efficiency = 2545 

B.t.u. supplied per h.p.-hr. 

(13) Roberts' formula for rating small gas engines: — DxLxRxN 

for fouT-cyde engines. 

(14) and D X L X R X N , , , 

JggOQ lor two-cycle engmes, 

in which D = diameter of cylinder in inches; L = length of stroke in inches; 
R = revolutions of crankshaft per minute- N = number of cylinders. 

Draft of different numbers of 14-inch stubble plows in sandy 
loam soil of an Illinois cornfield, based on thesis of C. A. Ocock, 
at Urbana, Dl., in 1904. Average of 90 tests at each depth, 
30 in wet, 30 in dry, and 30 in ideal soil conditions: 

of 14" 
















per Sq. In. 






















102 X 



























































4. SI 

Three-wheeled sulky plows used in all tests. For draft of 
engine gang plows imder the same condition add from 10 to 
25 per cent. For heavier soils add from 25 to 200 per cent. 

Capacity of plowing outfits in acres per hour at different 
speeds, for furrows of varying width and number. Formula: 
Miles net furrow travel and width in feet of strip plowed-n 
8.25 = Acres: 



Size of 


8 inches 

10 inches 

13 inches 

per Hour 


1. 75 I 2.0 [2.25 


I. 5 1.75 






No. of 




■ 14 




■ IS 










• 32 






• 45 





• 42 




• 45 



• 68 

• 76 

■ SS 











• 73 







1. 01 



1. 01 

1. 14 


• 91 







1. 21 



1. 21 













1. 41 







1. 13 



1. 21 






I -70 








1. 59 





1. 91 


1. 21 


























1. 45 








































2. II 
















3 23 



















































3. S3 


4. 55 

















Size of 



14 inches 

16 inches 

per Hour 




I. 5 |i.7S 1 2.0 




1.75 2.0 



No. of 



■ 24 







■ 35 



• 3 

• 36 




■ 55 


• 42 


• 57 











■ 91 



■ 85 







1. 21 


• 97 



■ 8s 


1. 13 






) 1.45 



1. 21 


1. 52 



I 41 



1. 21 












1. 91 





1. 3.18 




1. 91 










> 3.55 



















































3. SO 





















3. IS 

3. 54 







3. IS 



> 4-73 














































5. IS 




5. 41 














5. 72 





































5. 19 

5. 94 



5 09 





Horsepower and draft required to pull a 27,000-lb. tractor 
over various grades and road surfaces at a net speed of 1.9 
miles per hour (no allowance for slippage), calculated from 
actual tests on the same day on level surfaces at speeds of from 
1 . 77 to 1 .99 miles per hour: 








sort TIELD 

















































19 51 
















10. SI 













































It will be noted that the percentage of variation in draft 
between different road surfaces is not so great as for wagons; 
also that the draft ranges from about 160 to 225 pounds per 
gross ton. These drafts per ton are higher than are usual with 
wagons, and may be partly ascribed to the greater internal 
friction. A ton of engine weight pulled about 19 per cent, 
harder than a ton of wagon and load at the Winnipeg motor 
contest of 1909. The speed of travel for the tests reported 
in this table was 1.95 for macadam; 1.93 for firm dirt; 1.77 for 
soft, muddy road, and 1.67 for the soft field. The tractor 
pulling this load was designed to run at 2.05 miles per hour 
on low gear, hence the slippage under the various conditions 
ranged from about 5 to 18.5 per cent. If a constant figure for 
friction of gearing, etc., were subtracted from the draft per 
gross ton in each case, and for the better surfaces possibly a 
trifle more in proportion as the speed increases, the difference 
in draft due to road siuiace would be more strongly emphasized. 
On grades, the friction and ground resistance are constant, for 
all practical purposes, variation being due to the lift on the 
tractor alone. In actual pulling, the internal friction would be 



increased to an undetennined extent, hence possibly 250 pounds 
of resistance per ton of tractor weight would be none too much 
to allow on the level in order to estimate the horsepower re- 
quired to move a tractor over an ordinary road. Each per cent, 
of grade adds 20 pounds per ton to the resistance. For example : 
A tractor weighs 8 tons and moves at 2.5 miles per hour up a 
4 per cent, grade. What power does it take to move it? 

(8 X 250) X (8 z 4 X 20) = 2640 pounds. 
2640x2.6 ,„„, 


Belative draft of a stage coadi and passengers on Holyhead 
Turnpike, in England, at different speeds of travel. Based 
on table of dynamometer tests reported by Trautwine: 






10 lOLEB 




One in 
















































































Theoretical Capacity of Tractors on Grades 

Assumed: Tractors delivering at all times exactly the brake 
h.p. which will produce the rated drawbar horsepower on the 
level; ground resistance uniform, at 160 lbs. per gross ton 
of load and wagon; increase of resistance due to grade 20 lbs. 
per ton for each 1 per cent; no slippage, speed constant. No 
account taken of overload capacity of tractor, all of which would 
be exerted on the load, with marked increase in amount hauled 
This table is merely to show the loss due to grades which in- 
crease the draft of load and decrease the power of the tractor. 






NO. 2 

Speed of travel, miles per hour 




Working weight of tractor, lbs. 




Drawbar h.p. developed 




Drawbar pull. 




Draft per gross ton on level, lbs. 




Load on level 




Do. on 1% grade. 




Do. on 2% grade. 




Do. on 3% grade. 




Do. on 4% grade. 




Do. on B% grade. 




Do. on 8% grade. 




Do. on 10% grade. 




Do. on 12% grade. 




Do. on 15% grade. 






Relative draft of a stage coach and passengers as ascertained 
by dynamometer trials on various ascents on the Holyhead 
Turnpike, England. Comparison based on draft on level. 
Table based on one by Trautwine. 



AT 4 m. 


AT 6 MI. 

AT 8 MI. 

AT 10 MI. 




One in 


























































































(42 GAL.) 

Crude oil 


















































Alcohol 90% 






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Transactions New York State Agricultural Society, 1867, Article by J. S. 

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Proceedings North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota Implement Dealers, 
February, 1911, The Future of the Gas Tractor. 

La Hacienda. Buffalo, N. Y., August and September, 1910, The Traction 
Engine in Dry Farming. 

Canadian Thresherman and Farmer. Winnipeg, Man., The Tractor vs. the 
Horse, March 1910; Draft of Farm Implements, August, 1910; What Power 
means to the Future, April 1911. 

American Tresherman. Madison, Wis., March 1911, Substitutes for Direct 

Thresherman' s Review, St. Joseph, Mich., The Plows Behind the Engine, 
Causes for Traction Failures. 

Gtu Review. Madison, Wis., Traction Farming: A source of New Problems 
in Farm Economics, March 1910; Fuels for Litemal-Combustion Engines, 
November 1910. 


POWER andThe plow 

is the first attempt at a complete scientific statement 
of the problems arising from the introduction of 
mechanical power in general farming operations, and 
to the work of plowing in particuletr. 

Tlie investigation and study required to vrork up 
this book have had the support of the M. Rumely 
Company because that company is interested in 
having the important factors presented in an impar- 
tial way for general discussion. 

Power derived from the steam engine has created 
our modem factory system and our cities; mechan- 
ical power in the steamboat and railroad locomotive 
has superseded animals on the road and built up a 
w^orld-wride transportation system, and engine pow^er 
on the farm vfiM exert a similar far-reaching influ- 
ence that will lead to the reorganization of agricul- 
ture. This new^ force on the farm will bring about 
a social and human readjustment that is far more 
important them any single business enterprise, and 
on that account all biased information or reference 
to the business of the M. Rumely Company in partic- 
ular have been excluded from this book. Information 
regarding its tractors and threshing machinery can be 
obtained, without cost, by request for catalog to the 
M. Rumely Company, LaPorte, Indiana.